Saturday, July 14, 2012

Misunderstandings of the Liahona—the Ocean Course of the Liahona

Continuing with Theodore Brandley in his A North American Setting, he makes the statement: “The record specifically says that God guided them by the Liahona (1 Nephi 18:12-13) to a land that was hidden (2 Nephi 1:7-9). Geographers need to explain how the land in their model was hidden. The Book of Mormon does not say they were ever discovered. Nor would they be discovered by the first explorers, i.e. not Columbus. Consider the following two maps, North America is absent while Central and South America are present.”

Now, let’s look at this statement one part at a time.
Actually, the Book of Mormon states: “And it came to pass that after they had bound me insomuch that I could not move, the compass, which had been prepared of the Lord, did cease to work. Wherefore, they knew not whither they should steer the ship, insomuch that there arose a great storm, yea, a great and terrible tempest, and we were driven back upon the waters for the space of three days; and they began to be frightened exceedingly lest they should be drowned in the sea; nevertheless they did not loose me” (1 Nephi 18:12-13).
The purpose of this incident was to show that the Liahona worked by faith. Once the brothers bound Nephi and rebelled against the Lord, the Liahbona stopped working and the brothers were left to their own devices. From this we learn that faith and obedience are prerequisites to obtaining the blessings of the Lord. We also learn that the Liahona had been working throughout the time Lehi possessed it until that moment of the brothers’ rebellion. It should also be kept in mind what the Liahona was showing Lehi and his son, Nephi, regarding the course of the ship that was “driven forth before the wind.”
When Lehi reached the Sea, he named it Irreantum, which means many waters. How prophetic. One look at a map shows the continuous flow of Ocean into all the other oceans of the world

Irreantum, or the Arabian Sea, is the northern part of the Indian Ocean, which is also part of the Southern Ocean, which is part of the Pacific Ocean, etc., and aptly named by Lehi “Irreantum,” which means “many waters” (1 Nephi 17:5). As has been stated in this blog many times, the Arabian Sea does now flow toward the east, or toward India, Indonesia or the waters beyond. No ship “driven forth before the wind” could navigate in that direction and sail into deep water. Only local, coastal, shallow bottom vessels (traders) could sail along the coast toward Indonesia. For a ship like Nephi built, to sail in deep water across the vast oceans, only a deep ocean course would be possible. And since Nephi tells us his ship was “driven forth before the wind,” we have to take his route where the winds blow and currents flow.
That would be south into the Indian Ocean east of Madagascar, and into the eastward flowing Southern Ocean (West Wind Drift and Prevailing Westerlies) and eventually south of New Zealand and across the southern ocean south of the Pacific. The problem with such a route is that in the middle of the Indian Ocean, between Australia and Africa, is a low pressure area where both storms and currents cause a circular pattern for currents caught in its flow which, by the way, turns any craft sailing south back on its track to head back north.

Interesting that Nephi describes that very thing regarding the storm (1 Nephi 18:13). After four days, the ship had made the circle of this circular current and was back where he could “guide the ship” and sail to the west of the circular current and on south into the Southern Ocean. Had the brothers not rebelled, this was the original course the Liahona was pointing toward, but when they rebelled, the Liahona stopped working, and “they knew not whither they should steer the ship” and it was caught in this storm based current and sent back the way they had come.
The Southern Ocean is an open Sea with no islands, land masses, or other obstacles to the constant flow of water from west to east across the southern portion of the planet
For those who have ever sailed in the deep ocean with no sight of land for days on end, without a compass, sextant, etc., on a craft with a fixed sail and no other means of propulsion, you can well understand how much the brothers were out of their element, as would the entire Lehi Colony be without the Liahona.
And along the Southern Ocean there is no land to be sighted, no stopping, no anything but water, strong current and even stronger winds. Not only were the rebellious brothers cowed after four days in the storm, and not only had they become well aware of their inability to steer and control the ship, the frighteningly monotonous voyage along the Southern Ocean, moving at enormous speed by the current and winds, the brothers would have been cowed for the remainder of the trip. This is obviously the reason Nephi wrote, after being loosed and regaining control of the ship, “And it came to pass that I, Nephi, did guide the ship, that we sailed again towards the promised land. And it came to pass that after we had sailed for the space of many days we did arrive at the promised land” (1 Nephi 18:22-23).
The second part of Brandley’s above statement “to a land that was hidden” will be covered in the next post.

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