The Book of Mormon as an Israelite record captures and embodies multi-dimensional aspects of the word of God. Not only is it the record of a "fallen people" but contains a record of "the fulness of the gospel of Jesus Christ to the Gentiles and to the Jews also." (D&C 20:9) The declaration that the Book of Mormon contains the "fulness of the gospel" is important because to the mind of an Israelite the "gospel" or besorah is a declaration from God to his people designed to provide them with instructions on how to walk through the wilderness of mortality back into his presence. Part of the purpose of this declaration is to restore the science of the Fathers (even Adam, Enoch, Noah, Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob).
When the Prophet Nephi stated that he had been "taught somewhat in all the learning of my father" and that he was "favored of the Lord" and had a "great knowledge of of the goodness and mysteries of God" in true Israelite fashion he was also communicating to his Israelite audience that he was taught in the knowledge or science of the Fathers as which came through and was taught to him by his father Lehi. It was his possession and using of this ancient knowledge that allowed him to have "knowledge" or in Israelite thought, direct experience of the goodness and the mysteries of God.
ENTERING THE REST OF THE LORD- THE PATHWAYS OF WISDOM
In ancient Israel it was taught that God manifested himself in the act or states of creation and re-creation (aka. rest). Indeed the Sabbath day and the Appointed High Sabbaths of Israel are deeply connected to this principle. It is from this understanding that we receive the teaching of "entering the rest of the Lord (YHVH)" as exemplified by the prophet Alma in his description of the Holy Order (manner/pattern):
"Therefore they were called after this holy order, and were sanctified, and their garments were washed white through the blood of the Lamb. Now they, after being sanctified by the Holy Ghost, having their garments made white, being pure and spotless before God, could not look upon sin save it were with abhorrence; and there were many, exceedingly great many, who were made pure and entered into the rest of the Lord their God." (Alma 13:11-12)
The idea of "rest" and entering into the "rest of YHVH" finds its roots in the Exodus of the children of Israel wherein YHVH declared to Moses:
And he said, “My presence will go with you, and I will give you rest.” (Exodus 33:14)
Following the Hebraic thought we then trace the usage of this word where it first appears in Genesis 2:15:
"The LORD God took the man and put him in the garden of Eden to work it and keep it." (Genesis 2:15)
Here the word 'put' is actually the Hebrew word nuwach or rest. The idea being communicated that Adam was placed in the Garden wherein he found rest or the presence of YHVH. This motif is further supported by the Prophet Alma wherein he recounts the fall of Adam and plan of redemption:
"And now, my brethren, seeing we know these things, and they are true, let us repent, and harden not our hearts, that we provoke not the Lord our God to pull down his wrath upon us in these his second commandments which he has given unto us; but let us enter into the rest of God, which is prepared according to his word" (Alma 12:37)
These states of revelation, creation, and rest came to be connected to path to the Tree of Life and in Israel walking the path or the Exodus through the Wilderness to the Mountain of the Lord (YHVH) at Sinai. The knowledge of walking in the pathways was transmitted verbally in the Schools of the Prophets and in various sects of Judaism. The teaching was transmitted later in what came to be known as the 32 Paths of Wisdom; sometimes called the Pathways of the Heart.
The 32 paths of wisdom are connected to the Hebrew word for heart or Lev (לב) that has the gematria value of 32. The teaching refers to the 32 pathways referencing the first 32 places in Genesis where name of God (Eloheim אלהים) is referenced. The 22 letters plus 10 sephirot which God used to create the world also refer to the 32 paths or levels of consciousness by which man experiences and connects with God. These pathways form the connectors or strait path of the Tree of Life that lead to the presence of God and is pictured in the following graphic:
While the above diagram demonstrates a two dimensional pattern it was taught that the tree of life was meant to be viewed from a multi-dimensional pattern. Rather than just a two dimensional road map the tree of life was often related to image of a sphere or world. :
Within the sphere or in the inner part of the tree were two legs, trunks, or spindles that represented the powers of creation-The Light of Mercy and the Light of Wisdom. The connecting point of the two by which they functioned was faith or desire:
THE LIAHONA AND THE PATHS OF WISDOM
The Liahona is connected to this ancient teaching of the 32 Pathways of Wisdom. Woven into the Nephite account of the Liahona is the hidden teaching of ancient Israel that instructs the Israelite in journeying through the wilderness back into the presence of God. The teaching and account contain many symbols designed to communicate principles of deep importance and ancient origin. When examined, understood and practiced the principles lead the disciple through paths to the more fertile parts in this wilderness where the traveler obtains further light and knowledge, divine sustenance, gifts of the spirit, and angelic ministration.
In his record, the Prophet Nephi records the following:
"And it came to pass that as my father arose in the morning, and went forth to the tent door, to his great astonishment he beheld upon the ground a round ball of curious workmanship; and it was of fine brass. And within the ball were two spindles; and the one pointed the way whither we should go into the wilderness." (1 Nephi 16:10)
The ball which came to be called Liahona was a living embodiment of the tree of life and the guiding force through the pathways of wisdom which is still preserved today in Judaism in what came to be know as the 32 Paths of Wisdom. While Nephi records the literal events surrounding the discovery and use of the Liahona, the story is recorded and encoded with ancient Israelite knowledge regarding the process by which a person navigates their wanderings in the wilderness, their places of rest, and their coming into the presence of YHVH and ultimately being let to the Land of Promise.
By following the the directions of the ball of "curious workmanship" that was found at the "tent door" (ancient Israelite literary markers connected with the science of the fathers), the prophet Lehi and his family were led in the "more fertile parts" of the wilderness until they came to a place of rest:
And after we had traveled for the space of many days, we did pitch our tents for the space of a time, that we might again rest ourselves and obtain food for our families." (1 Nephi 16:16-17)
Just as Lehi and Nephi were led by the Liahona to a place of rest, the ancient teaching of the 32 pathways is also found in the "restings" of the children of Israel. It is no coincidence that there are 32 resting places recorded of the children of Israel when they went forth from Egypt (Numbers 33:1-50). These travels also correspond to 32 stages of spiritual progression that create the Tikkun Olam (repair of the world) or healing for the House of Israel and the world.
The principles by which the pointers/spindles of the Liahona worked were described by Nephi thus:
And it came to pass that I, Nephi, beheld the pointers which were in the ball, that they did work according to the faith and diligence and heed which we did give unto them. And there was also written upon them a new writing, which was plain to be read, which did give us understanding concerning the ways of the Lord; and it was written and changed from time to time, according to the faith and diligence which we gave unto it. And thus we see that by small means the Lord can bring about great things." (1 Nephi 16:28-29)
This spiritual principle of navigation through the wilderness of God was further explained by the Prophet Alma:
"And now, my son, I have somewhat to say concerning the thing which our fathers call a ball, or director—or our fathers called it Liahona, which is, being interpreted, a compass; and the Lord prepared it. And behold, there cannot any man work after the manner of so curious a workmanship. And behold, it was prepared to show unto our fathers the course which they should travel in the wilderness.
And it did work for them according to their faith in God; therefore, if they had faith to believe that God could cause that those spindles should point the way they should go, behold, it was done; therefore they had this miracle, and also many other miracles wrought by the power of God, day by day. Nevertheless, because those miracles were worked by small means it did show unto them marvelous works. They were slothful, and forgot to exercise their faith and diligence and then those marvelous works ceased, and they did not progress in their journey;
Therefore, they tarried in the wilderness, or did not travel a direct course, and were afflicted with hunger and thirst, because of their transgressions. And now, my son, I would that ye should understand that these things are not without a shadow; for as our fathers were slothful to give heed to this compass (now these things were temporal) they did not prosper; even so it is with things which are spiritual.
For behold, it is as easy to give heed to the word of Christ, which will point to you a straight course to eternal bliss, as it was for our fathers to give heed to this compass, which would point unto them a straight course to the promised land.
And now I say, is there not a type in this thing? For just as surely as this director did bring our fathers, by following its course, to the promised land, shall the words of Christ, if we follow their course, carry us beyond this vale of sorrow into a far better land of promise." (Alma 37:38-45)
THE DIRECT COURSE- THE CENTER PILLAR- AND THE SECRET OF MESSIAH
The direct path or center pillar was the pillar or pathway of harmony that balanced the attributes of Wisdom and Understanding, Severity and Mercy, Power and Long Suffering. This direct pathway or pillar contained the secret of the Messiah and the Knowledge of God and leads to the Land of Promise or Presence of God.
There is much more that could be said regarding this ancient principle as it relates to the account of Nephi- the direction they traveled, their sufferings, the breaking of their bows, obtaining instruction to obtain food, and being brought to the Land Bountiful. From beginning to end, the account and the journey teach us ancient principles of spiritual progression and the pathways of awareness/consciousness that leads one to experience the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. What is important to understand is that far from being just an ancient compass, the Liahona leads the Israelite reader to a deeper understanding of navigating the wilderness of mortality and the world of the spirit through the more fertile parts until one reaches the Presence of God.
© 2018 Robert Kay
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