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Tuesday, January 14, 2014

The Beauty of Nature: Fractals (Pt. 1)

With the knowledge the Lord has imparted unto me, I know physical/temporal gain does not matter to us in an eternal perspective. However, "intangible" things, like knowledge are. The Lord said, "Whatever principle of intelligence we attain unto in this life, it will rise with us in the resurrection. And if a person gains more knowledge and intelligence in this life through his diligence and obedience than another, he will have so much the advantage in the world to come." (D&C 130: 18-19) Even before I was a Latter-day Saint, I knew knowledge was important. Therefore, I yearn to gain more knowledge, and bring into the world "new" knowledge. Some may call this the yearning of a young philosopher. But, knowledge does not need to be a philosophical "intangible" theory (so-to-speak). However, it usually appears to begin that way. In the 1970's, for example, there was a young man who had made certain observations pertaining to the unique properties of coastal lines, trees, and inputing f(x) for x in a certain equation. This lead to a great discovery. To begin, people rejected it saying, "fractals don't have anything to do with math. It isn't real mathematics." Now, fractal mathematics is widely accepted as legitimate math. Believe it or not, this quite new branch of mathematics, can be used to describe us, our duty, and our eternal destiny.

The idea of a fractal is easier to explain with a tree. If you look to a tree, you will see that one of the properties it has is branches. This is an obvious thing to point out, yes. Now, if you take a branch and break it off were it connects to the stem and place the broken branch into the ground, it will look like the same type of tree, just smaller. This, also, has branches. So, if we break off a branch from the branch and put it into the ground, it still looks like a tree. A perfect fractal would be able to do this infinitely and it would still look like the larger has a whole. A perfect fractal would also work backwards infinitely.

If we took a small branch and took a step back, it would appear to be on a larger branch. If we take a step back from that, it will look like it is on a bigger branch, and so on. The reason I have decided to use the examples of trees, is because the Lord has done the same thing with "The Allegory of the Tame and Wild Olive Tree." This allegory was given to us by the Lord through His prophet, Zenos. There is little to no record of Zenos, except in the Book of Mormon. I desire to expound what I understand concerning, in part, Jacob 5 in The Book of Mormon. Interpolations will help to clarify some of my personal understandings and theories. (Remember, this is not an official stance of the Church.) This is a long chapter, and this is going to be a long nonconsecutive series of extensive posts. If you do not want to read a novel (actually, there was a novel written about it, but I haven't read it... yet), you may want to stop now. I do caution you. If you continue to read there may be some deeper doctrine ahead. Therefore, this is for those who have a testimony of God and Jesus Christ who know of their wonderful gifts they have provided to us. It is some pretty tough stuff to "digest." Much like meat to a child, one must be mature spiritually to understand. Paul wrote at the beginning of 1 Corinthians Chapter 3, "And I, brethren, could not speak unto you as unto spiritual, but as unto carnal, even as unto babes in Christ. I have fed you with milk, and not with meat: for hitherto ye were not able to bear it, neither yet now are ye able." (1 Cor 3: 1-2) In other words, one must be able to digest the milk, before getting the meat. I have placed this out there for those who are ready. I, also, know some who are not ready will read this as well. It may be overwhelming, but if you go back to square one, and work your way forward, it will make sense.

"Thus saith the Lord, I will liken thee, O house of Israel, like unto a tame olive tree..." (Jacob 5: 3) First off, He tells us who. That is, the House of Israel. The house of Israel is the descendants of Jacob (AKA Israel), Isaac, and Abraham. Then, He continues saying,"... which a man took and nourished in his vineyard; and it grew, and waxed old, and began to decay." (Jacob 5: 3)
If we look at the man, we will see that it is the Lord. He, from the beginning, has taken the House of Israel and nourished them with His word. Yet, we can see that the House, "waxed old, and began to decay." This is a sign of what we call "apostasy," or a falling away from the truth. Thus, when a living thing is not nourished, it begins to die and decay. The Lord did not malnourish Israel on purpose. This is what happens when they reject the nourishment.

Then, "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... he [then] pruned it, and digged about it, and nourished it according to his word." (Jacob 5: 4-5)
This verse shows the love the Lord has for Israel. He even made sacrifices to nourish them with His word that the House of Israel might "shoot forth young and tender branches, and... perish not."Another important truth is demonstrated in the fourth verse. That is that the Lord will say what He will do before He does it. Amos said, "Surely the Lord God will do nothing, [until] he revealeth his secret unto his servants the prophets." (Amos 3: 7) One might say this is a demonstration of perfect goal setting, and being held accountable. Surely, as the Lord reveals His secrets to His servants, they we surely be brought to pass. Hence, "And it came to pass that after many days it began to put forth somewhat a little, young and tender branches..." (Jacob 5: 6) Just as the Lord desired, and predicted.

"... but behold, the main top thereof began to perish." (Jacob 5: 6)
This reveals to us a larger part of Israel continued to reject the nourishing word of the Lord. While others' faith made them sprout as tender branches. This did not go unnoticed, however.

"the master of the vineyard saw it, and he said unto his servant, 'It grieveth me that I should lose this tree; wherefore, go and pluck the branches from a wild olive tree, and bring them hither unto me; and we will pluck off those main branches which are beginning to wither away, and we will cast them into the fire that they may be burned.'" (Jacob 5: 7; inner quotations added) The Lord shows His love and concern for Israel. This love is quite easily described in John 3: 16. Also noted in John 3: 16, is the fact that God had to make sacrifices. The same is demonstrated when He said, "we will pluck off those main branches which are beginning to wither away, and we will cast them into the fire that they may be burned." Because they are "main branches." There needs to a means of preserving the tree. Thus, He prepares His solution by telling His servant to get the wild branches ready. The Lord further says, "I take away many of these young and tender branches, and I will graft them whithersoever I will; and it mattereth not that if it so be that the root of this tree will perish, I may preserve the fruit thereof unto myself; wherefore, I will take these young and tender branches, and I will graft them whithersoever I will." (Jacob 5: 8)

If we follow what is happening, the new tender branches which came fourth after his nourishing are being broken off and taken elsewhere. In the next verse, He continues to give direction to His servant, "Take thou the branches of the wild olive tree, and graft them in, in the stead thereof; and these which I have plucked off I will cast into the fire and burn them, that they may not cumber the ground of my vineyard." (Jacob 5: 9)
Now we see that those wild branches will be grafted into the main olive tree, and that the bad branches will be taken out of the picture. If the Lord just left the in the vineyard, they would hold back the progress of the growth. Hence, "that they may not cumber the ground of my vineyard." The pattern Amos described is still demonstrated by the Lord telling His servant before any action is done.

Then, "the servant of the Lord of the vineyard did according to the word of the Lord of the vineyard, and grafted in the branches of the wild olive tree." (Jacob 5: 10)

I believe understanding this part is crucial to understand the entire allegory, and God's plan. If we remember the tree represents the seed of Abraham, that means the other trees represent seed of others. That means that some of those branches of others will become Abraham's seed, by grafting, or in other words adoption. We read the fulfillment of this in the New Testament, and gain a better understanding of what it means. Paul wrote, "Know ye therefore that they which are of faith, the same are the children of Abraham. And the scripture, foreseeing that God would justify the heathen through faith, preached before the gospel unto Abraham, saying, In thee shall all nations be blessed. So then they which be of faith are blessed with faithful Abraham... the blessing of Abraham might come on the Gentiles through Jesus Christ; that we might receive the promise of the Spirit through faith... to Abraham and his seed were the promises made. He saith not, And to seeds, as of many; but as of one, And to thy seed, which is Christ... For ye are all the children of God by faith in Christ Jesus. For as many of you as have been baptized into Christ have put on Christ. There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither bond nor free, there is neither male nor female: for ye are all one in Christ Jesus. And if ye be Christ's, then are ye Abraham's seed, and heirs according to the promise." (Galatians 3: 7-9, 14, 16, 26-29; just read ALL of Galatians 3) Hence, all who are baptized, in not the seed of Jacob, are adopted into the family to receive the blessings of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob (further why authority is needed... maybe a later post).

"And the Lord of the vineyard caused that it should be digged about, and pruned, and nourished..." (Jacob 5: 11)
This saying means the Lord gave His word to Israel, and they were in a dispensation. But the Lord knew that it wasn't going to continue. He said unto his servant, "It grieveth me that I should lose this tree; wherefore, that perhaps I might preserve the roots thereof that they perish not, that I might preserve them unto myself, I have done this thing. Wherefore, go thy way; watch the tree, and nourish it, according to my words. And these will I place in the nethermost part of my vineyard, whithersoever I will, it mattereth not unto thee; and I do it that I may preserve unto myself the natural branches of the tree; and also, that I may lay up fruit thereof against the season, unto myself; for it grieveth me that I should lose this tree and the fruit thereof." (Jacob 5: 11-13)
This is Him revealing that Israel will not all remain in the same place; because if they do they will perish. Therefore the Lord is saying He will scatter Israel because of their wickedness. And He doesn't tell His servant, at this time, The location of where he will put them. After telling His servant these things, "the Lord of the vineyard went his way, and hid the natural branches of the tame olive tree in the nethermost parts of the vineyard, some in one and some in another, according to his will and pleasure. (Jacob 5:14)

In conclusion, the major doctrinal points brought up in these first fourteen verses are the scattering of Israel, the adoption into the family of Abraham, and "Surely the Lord God will do nothing, [until] he revealeth his secret unto his servants the prophets." These first fourteen verses tell us what has happened. As we continue to delve into the allegory, we will see it will reveal to us what is happening, and what will occur in the future.

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