Saturday, August 17, 2019


The account of the Liahona or "ball" is by far one of the most enigmatic accounts given in the Book of Mormon. At first glance, the existence, the function, and form of the Liahona appear to be unlike the description of anything preserved in the records of the House of Israel. Over the years, many scholars speculated regarding this mysterious device. Not knowing really what to make of it, the Liahona is relegated to being a "compass" and its' place in the Book of Mormon is often glossed over without any real discussion of substance.

The existence of the Liahona is first mentioned by the Prophet Nephi immediately after his second account of ascension. It is strategically placed after this account to teach the reader a very ancient doctrine connected to the Tree of Life and our return to the presence of God. Nephi records:

“And it came to pass that the voice of the Lord spake unto my father by night, and commanded him that on the morrow he should take his journey into the wilderness. 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 16:9-10)

There are prophetic word markers in this verse that are designed to alert the Israelite reader to a teaching connected with the paths of righteousness and Moses' tabernacle or tent in the wilderness. The first marker in the above referenced Scripture are the words "tent door" and the words "curious workmanship". The usage of these words are meant to direct the reader to the Torah.  Here the Prophet Nephi strategically places these words after an ancient manner of teaching in Israel designed to draw the mind of the Israelite reader to those accounts in the Torah related to these references:

The first is the appearance of the LORD to Abraham:

"And the LORD appeared unto him in the plains of Mamre: and he sat in the tent door in the heat of the day; And he lift up his eyes and looked, and, lo, three men stood by him: and when he saw them, he ran to meet them from the tent door, and bowed himself toward the ground," (Genesis 18:1-2)

It is also connected to the Mishkan or Tabernacle in the Wilderness in reference to the design of this wilderness temple:

"And thou shalt make an hanging for the door of the tent, of blue, and purple, and scarlet, and fine twined linen, wrought with needlework. And thou shalt make for the hanging five pillars of shittim wood, and overlay them with gold, and their hooks shall be of gold: and thou shalt cast five sockets of brass for them." (Exodus 26:36-37)


"And it came to pass, when Moses went out unto the tabernacle, that all the people rose up, and stood every man at his tent door, and looked after Moses, until he was gone into the tabernacle.

And it came to pass, as Moses entered into the tabernacle, the cloudy pillar descended, and stood at the door of the tabernacle, and the LORD talked with Moses.

And all the people saw the cloudy pillar stand at the tabernacle door: and all the people rose up and worshipped, every man in his tent door." (Genesis 33:8-10)

The idea being communicated by Nephi is that the "tent door" is meant to indicate to the reader that his father's finding of the Liahona at his tent door is connected with a temple teaching and ascending to the presence of God.

In addition, Nephi's usage of the words "curious workmanship" is designed to indicate to the reader that the function of the Liahona is connected to another temple related item of fine or curious workmanship-the Ephod:

"It shall have the two shoulder pieces thereof joined at the two edges thereof; and so it shall be joined together. And the curious girdle of the ephod, which is upon it, shall be of the same, according to the work thereof; even of gold, of blue, and purple, and scarlet, and fine twined linen. And thou shalt take two onyx stones, and grave on them the names of the children of Israel:" (Exodus 28:7-9)

In connecting the Liahona with the Tabernacle in the Wilderness and the mysterious Ephod that was designed as a device to reveal the perfecting light of God (YHVH), Nephi is revealing and restoring to us an ancient temple teaching designed to restore us to the presence of God.


The Tree of Life serves as a grand archetype in the teachings of the House of Israel. The teachings and lore regarding this tree can be traced to the foundations of the earth and the Garden of Eden story. Traditionally, the tree of life is often depicted as a two dimensional figure illustrated below:

While depicted as a two dimensional figure, it was taught in ancient Israelite thought that the Tree of Life instead of being a two dimensional figure was actually a three dimensional figure depicted below:

The large spheres and the diagrams above are what are termed sephiroth or the emanations or attributes of God.  The lines connecting the the sephiroth of the Tree of Life are called the twenty-two Paths of Wisdom. These paths of wisdom correspond with the written twenty-two letters of the Hebrew alphabet. They represent the experiences we undergo as we travel or take our journey of ascension from this fallen world to the presence of God.  The combination of the letters in these paths represent the directions or revelations of God to assist us in our upward journey.

Nephi further connects the Liahona in both function and form as he describes how writings would appear upon the ball and were changed from time to time:

"And within the ball were two spindles; and the one pointed the way whither we should go into the wilderness. "

"And we did follow the directions of the ball, which led us in the more fertile parts of the wilderness.

"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 16:9, 10, 28-29)

The journey from this world to the throne room of God is called the wilderness. Whether it be Moses and the Children of Israel leaving Egypt to descend into the wilderness to come unto the presence of God at Mount Sinai or Lehi and his family leaving Jerusalem and descending into the wilderness to reach the Land of Promise, we are meant to understand that our journey of ascension is our wilderness journey. The function of the Liahona was to lead them in the more fertile parts of the wilderness or those places where God nourishes his people in the wilderness to prepare them to come into his presence. Whether it be the gift of manna or quail along the path (in the case of Moses and the Children of Israel) or the provision of game in Nephi obtaining food for his family the spiritual message being presented is the same. Each step along the path offering a means of of drawing closer and closer into oneness with God or the option of straying from the path directed by God down the forbidden paths that lead to destruction.

The Prophet Alma gives us further insight into the function of the Liahona and its relationship to the Tree of Life in Alma 37.  Here Alma gives reveals and reaffirms the connection between the Liahona and the "stone" that would be prepared for a future seer that in function is similar to the stones described above in reference to the Ephod:

"And the Lord said: I will prepare unto my servant Gazelem, a stone, which shall shine forth in darkness unto light, that I may discover unto my people who serve me, that I may discover unto them the works of their brethren, yea, their secret works, their works of darkness, and their wickedness and abominations. And now, my son, these interpreters were prepared that the word of God might be fulfilled, which he spake, saying:

I will bring forth out of darkness unto light all their secret works and their abominations; and except they repent I will destroy them from off the face of the earth; and I will bring to light all their secrets and abominations, unto every nation that shall hereafter possess the land." (Alma 37: 23-25)

He then immediately proceeds to teach his son regarding Wisdom or the path of Wisdom and how he is teaching his son to take his journey of ascension:

"O, remember, my son, and learn wisdom in thy youth; yea, learn in thy youth to keep the commandments of God." (Alma 37:35)

The admonishment to learn wisdom being a prophetic marker that he is about to reveal a key "wisdom" teaching to his son.  He goes on:

"Yea, and cry unto God for all thy support; yea, let all thy doings be unto the Lord, and whithersoever thou goest let it be in the Lord; yea, let all thy thoughts be directed unto the Lord; yea, let the affections of thy heart be placed upon the Lord forever.

Counsel with the Lord in all thy doings, and he will direct thee for good; yea, when thou liest down at night lie down unto the Lord, that he may watch over you in your sleep; and when thou risest in the morning let thy heart be full of thanks unto God; and if ye do these things, ye shall be lifted up at the last day." (Alma 37:36-37)

Here Alma directs his son to YHVH and tells him that his heart is the drawing board upon which the designs of our thoughts (heb. the heart being the center of thoughts; ie. thoughts of their hearts) should be placed and drafted to God.  He then commences in describing the daily actions of our journeys that lead us to our ascension experience of being "lifted up at the last day."

After this Alma then proceeds to deliver teaching regarding the Liahona:

"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." (Alma 37:38-44)

While the Liahona as a physical device directed Lehi and his family in the wilderness, the device served as a type and shadow which Alma equates with the Words of Christ.  The straight and navigated course that leads to the presence of God or the promised land is connected with the ancient Israelite teaching of the Tree of Life and the Presence of God.

"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.

O my son, do not let us be slothful because of the easiness of the way; for so was it with our fathers; for so was it prepared for them, that if they would look they might live; even so it is with us. The way is prepared, and if we will look we may live forever." (Alma 37:45-46)


"And within the ball were two spindles; and the one pointed the way whither we should go into the wilderness." (1 Nephi 16;16)

In Israelite thought men and women represent trees or within each of us is a representation of the Tree of Life. Like the Liahona, the tree of life was depicted as having two legs or spindles:

All creative acts begin with the single point of Desire (heb. kavvanah or intention of the heart).  It is the power, fuel, or force behind all creative acts (whether the creation of life or the creation of destruction).  In true Israelite fashion we see this creative process in play with real people connecting Heaven with Earth:

"And they did pray for that which they most desired; and they desired that the Holy Ghost (Ruach Elohym or Mind of God) should be given unto them...And it came to pass that when Jesus had thus prayed unto the Father, he came unto his disciples, and behold, they did still continue, without ceasing, to pray unto him; and they did not multiply many words, for it was given unto them what they should pray, and they were filled with desire." (3 Nephi 19: 9,24)

The Light of Life:

The Light of Life is representative of the Messiah or The Son or The Only Begotten as both function (process) and form.  Jesus (Yeshua) being the living embodiment of both. It is connected with the Judgment of God:

"Behold Eyeh*
Yeshoshua Messiah
of which the prophets testified
that should come into the world
And behold Ehyeh
the light and the life of the world
And I have drunk out of that bitter cup
which the Father has given me
And have glorified the Father in taking upon me the sins
of the world in which I have suffered the will
of the Father in all things from the beginning"
(Voices From the Dust Volume 3, compare to 3 Nephi 11:10-11)

*See Exodus 3:14-"And God said unto Moses, I AM THAT I AM: and he said, Thus shalt thou say unto the children of Israel, I AM hath sent me unto you.)  Moses and the burning bush/tree.

The Light of Mercy:

The Light of Mercy is representative of the Messiah or The Son or The Only Begotten as both function (process) and form.  It is connected with the true beauty that the Messiah reveals as he balances judgment and mercy:

"Yea, verily I say unto you, if ye will come unto me ye shall have eternal life. Behold, mine arm (spindle) of mercy is extended towards you, and whosoever will come, him will I receive; and blessed are those who come unto me." (3 Nephi 9: 14)

5 And it came to pass that when Jesus had thus spoken, he cast his eyes round about again on the multitude, and beheld they were in tears, and did look steadfastly upon him as if they would ask him to tarry a little longer with them.

6 And he said unto them: Behold, my bowels are filled with compassion towards you.

7 Have ye any that are sick among you? Bring them hither. Have ye any that are lame, or blind, or halt, or maimed, or leprous, or that are withered, or that are deaf, or that are afflicted in any manner? Bring them hither and I will heal them, for I have compassion upon you; my bowels are filled with mercy. (3 Nephi 17:5-6)

The Messiah is the balancing force of the tree of Life.  Through him and his teachings the attributes of God are balanced and the trees (men and women) are fashioned after "curious workmanship".  As men and women take their journey in the wilderness to ascend the Holy Mountain, God has provided direction in the wilderness to lead us in the more fertile paths until we come to our land of Bountiful where we receive the further light and knowledge to fashion additional tools to build our vessel that will allow us to cross the great deep and arrive at The Land of Promise (The Presence of YHVH).

As with any journey we must obtain the record of Heaven, our Liahona in the Wilderness, and our land of Bountiful.


(To be continued)

Article Copyright 2019- Robert Kay

No comments:

Post a Comment