Liahona, a Type and Shadow

One of the great teachings of the Book of Mormon comes from Alma’s teaching to his son Helaman about the Liahona. Alma first describes the Liahona as having been prepared by God to lead Lehi in the wilderness. (Alma 37:40) He next states that “It did work for them according to their faith in God”. (40) In other words, it wasn’t a mechanical device that continually point the way. It only worked when they had faith. More specifically, it only worked when they had “faith to believe that God could cause that those spindles should point the way they should go.” (40)

Because it was so easy to do, and seemed such a small thing, they became lazy and quit looking at the Liahona. (41) “Therefore, they tarried in the wilderness, or did not travel a direct course, and were afflicted with hunger and thirst.” (42)

Alma teaches Helaman that this is a type of things which are spiritual. (43) The idea of a “type” is actually quite interesting. A type is a thing which represents something more significant. A grape is a type of fruit, fruits in general being greater than a grape. If you have “fruit”, you have more than a single grape. The Liahona was a type of personal revelation. When you have personal revelation, you have more than the Liahona.

In specific, Alma was saying that the “the word of Christ” is greater than the Liahona. “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.” (44) The point being that “Eternal Bliss” is greater and more valuable to us than the “Promised Land”.

“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” – which Alma just called “Eternal Bliss”. (45)

Anyone who has read the Un-Blog will quickly realize that the “word of Christ” of which we speak is the Holy Spirit, the Light of Christ, that which begins as our conscience and grows into “Eternal Bliss” thereafter.

“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 [at the Liahona] they might live; even so it is with us. The way is prepared, and if we will look [at our greater personal Liahona] we may live forever.” (46)

The razor’s edge of this truth is that the Holy Spirit only functions when we have faith that God can cause the Holy Spirit to “show unto [me] the course which [I] should travel.” And when we do, then we have “this miracle, and also many other miracles wrought by the power of God, day by day.” (Alma 37:40)

Next on the UnBlog: The Lachish Letters and the Book of Mormon

Brother John

© February 2012, John M. Pontius, all rights reserved. Non-commercial reproduction permitted.

About John Pontius

I am a lover of truth.
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2 Responses to Liahona, a Type and Shadow

  1. heansweredme says:

    For me the most curious part of the Liahona, what I would like to find out, are the laws that govern this device. There is some eternal law at work here, whereby obedience can affect a physical device.


    • I agree. I wish there was a lot more written and understood about “spiritual technology”. We see it in things like Moses’ staff, Aaron’s rod, The Arc of the Covenant, Peter’s handkerchief which healed people, the Urim and Thummim, Brass Plates that never dim or tarnish. I’m sure there are many others I can’t think of right now.

      The point is that all things are as spiritual as they are physical. They were created first spiritually, and then the physical assumes the shape of the spiritual. Even a rock has a “spirit” which defines its mortal properties. A divine person with authority to address the spirit portion of a mortal object can instruct that object to do or be anything , or to provide any effect. This is how the B O Jared’s 16 stones became lit up. The spirit is the pattern for the physical, so when the spirit takes on divine properties, the physical object follows. Liahona was a physical object with divine properties housed in its spiritual creation, and hence had uncommon abilities.

      We know almost zero about how to do such a thing, but we know that it is a normal part of God’s plan. Maybe in the Millennium some university will offer a class on such things.

      Good question.


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