By Cordell and Janice Vail

16 May 2004

Copyright 2004 by Cordell Vail, all rights reserved

A weekly email gospel message for the descendents of Ammon and Winona Vail

The Liahona and The Power Of Revelation

Many years ago when we were living in Salt Lake we taught a family by the name of Steve and Violate Payne. As we taught them they asked us so many questions. As a part of answering those questions we made several visual aids to help explain gospel concepts and church history to them. Among those visual aids were replicas of things made as best we could learn from the history of the church such as a copy of the gold plates, the urim and Thummim, the Liahona and other such items.

Having those visual aids, primary presidents around the Salt Lake valley started asking me if I would bring them and show the children in sharing time. I gave so many sharing times I can not even remember them all. I would put on my white jump suit that I used when baptizing people and then when I came in the primary room I was barefoot and dressed in white carrying the gold plates. I told the children that I was Moroni, the very same one that was on the temple. I had so many funny experiences with those little children. The were astonishing in their knowledge and wisdom. I would like to share some of those experiences with you in this Sunday Sermon.

Some were funny experiences. You have to understand that many of these children actually believed I was Moroni even though we told them after I was just pretending to be. But one boy was not to be fooled. When I can in the room and the primary president announced that I was pretending to be Moroni and that I was going to show them a copy of the gold plates, on little boy who was about five raised his hand immediately with a question before I even had a chance to say anything. He said, "If you are really Moroni then why do you have a watch on. Moroni did not have a watch". After that I never wore my watch during the presentations.

On another occasion I was in a ward building in North Salt Lake where there was an upstairs in the building. When you came out of the classrooms up there, you came to the hall way that was open so you could see down into the foyer by the front doors. I had just changed back into my regular church cloths and came down the hall to that opening. I stopped just to look down at the people there who were all standing talking to each other after church. This little boy with a very loud voice looked up and saw me and said in his loudest voice, "Look mom, there is Moroni". Well people all having heard that some times children can see people from the other side every person down in that foyer looked up trying to see where the boy had seen the Angle Moroni standing. The looks on their faces was so funny.

But the astonishing thing was the questions that the children asked me. When I very first made my Liahona I searched all over Salt Lake in pond shops for something that was round and brass. I finally found an ash tray from India that was round and brass. So I turned it over so it would not look like an ash tray and put TWO SPINDLES on it just like the Book of Mormon said. Pointers. I took it to a primary sharing time a few weeks later to use in my presentation. After I got to the Liahona part, this little boy, about 8, raised his hands and said, "If the Liahona just had two pointers on it how did they know which one to follow". I was stunned. I did not know.

I went home and did a great deal of research and finally realized that when the Nephites were on the boat coming to America it says that one of the spindles was a compass. Now that made sense. If one was a compass and the other a pointer then You could put the compass pointing north and that would make the second spindle point some where. So I removed the first spindle and replaced it with a compass. Children. The are so wise.

Then a few months later I was at another sharing time and a little girl about that same age looked over my Liahona and then raised her hand and asked, "Doesn't the Book Of Mormon say the pointers were INSIDE THE BALL?" Again I was astonished at the wisdom of this little child. I told her that was correct. I did not tell her I had put them on the outside and on the bottom so it would not look like an ash tray and would be easier to see for the children. My Liahona still to this day has the spindles on the outside where they can be seen easier. Some day I will take the advice of that child and put the inside where they belong.

I spent many hours and sanded the edges of the ball and then engraved some of the Egyptian hieroglyphics from the copy Joseph Smith gave us, so it looked like writing around the outside of the ball. The children used to get a big laugh when I would tell them not to complain in school any more when they had to erase something they wrote with a pencil and write it again. I would then ask them if they knew how long it took the Angle to sand off that scratching on the brass ball every night and write something else for Lehi to read. It was so amazing that the children always knew that the Angle could just make the writing appear and did not have to sand it off. The wisdom of Children....I am still astonished as I think of the many many questions they asked me.

If you open the attached picture you can see a picture of my replica of the Liahona wiht the spindles still on the outside of the ball where they should not be.

Tthe Lord often gives prophets physical instruments to help them receive revelation. The Brother of Jared made the Urimum and Thummin which was passed down to Mosiah who used it to translate the book we now call Ether. Joseph used it to translate the Book of Mormon. Lehi had what we call a Liahona to help him find his way to America. When Lehi first went into the desert the Lord gave him an instrument to work with to help him receive guidance and revelation. They used it all the way to America. Finally when Lehi died and Nephi moved away from his brothers into the Wilderness we hear no more of Nephi needing the Liahon to guide them. I dont know if that was because he did not need it any more or if he learned to receive revelation with out it.

Joseph Smith had the Urim and Thummim to help him translate the Book Of Mormon. But he also had a second instrument called a seer stone. We know very little about the seer stone. It appears to be so sacred, like the Urim and Thummin that it was not talked about much. WE have some accounts of people having seen it but when they are telling conflicting stories about it years later, it is hard to tell what was memory and what was perceived conceptions by them. We still have that seer stone in the church today. But it is seldom mentioned because of the sacred nature of it. Joseph Fielding Smith tells us that Lorenzo Snow had it on the alter of the Manti Temple when he dedicated that temple. Many people have said that it was the Urium and Thummim that was there on the alter. But that is not true. Joseph Smith gave the Urim and Thummim back to Moroni with the plates. This was a single stone that can be used by a seer in the same manner as the Urim and Thummim.

The thing that I realized or learned as I taught the children over and over in sharing time was that we each have an instrument in our own lives not unlike a Liahona or Urim and Thummim. It is the Holy Ghost. And if we live worthy and are willing to listen we can receive revelations for us in our own lives just as they did with their instruments. But if we do not live worthy of that revelation then we can be deceived.

That started to happen in the very early history of the church. Once it was learned that Joseph Smith had a seer stone, it appears that others tried to make one for them selves. Hirum Page, one of the eight witnesses of the Book Of Mormon did such a thing. He started to receive revelations about building up Zion and other things related to organizing the church. And the revelations that he received through his Seer Stone were given while Joseph Smith was out of town. Oliver Cowdery and the Whitmer family were very taken in by these revelations. When Joseph Smith came back home, he corrected them and showed them that only the President of the Church can receive revelations for the whle church. We then see this statement in the Doctrine and Covenants about Hirum Page's seer stone.

D&C 28:11
And again, thou shalt take thy brother, Hiram Page, between him and thee alone, and tell him that those things which he hath written from that stone are not of me and that Satan deceiveth him;

In 1976 while I was a professional genealogist, I found a picture in the church historians office of a seer stone. (I assume it is a picture of one of these false seer stones, not the one that President Lorenzo Snow put on the alter of the Manti Temple) But this at least gives us an idea of what people of that time perceived the seer stone to look like. I also found a rock that looked like it so I drilled two holes in it and made it look like the picture. But anyone who is not the prophet seer and revelator of this church and uses any instrument like this to recrive revelation IS A FALSE PROPHET. I heard someone say that Bruce R. McConkie said that the seer stone we have now is kept in the Holy of Holies of the Salt lake temple. But there are some very clear statemets to that fact in Joseph Fielding Smith, Doctrines of Salvation, 3 vols. (Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1956), page 225

There were other people who started using divining rods or witches wears to receive revelations. One mob brought such a person with them with a divining rod that could find gold. They broke into Joseph Smiths house and tried to find the plates. Joseph had hid them behind a loose rock in the fire place mantel. The divining rod kept pointing to the rocks in the fire place. The mob became very angry with the man not realizing that Satan was actually giving him power to point the rod right at the plates hidden behind the rock. But they thought it was just pointing to the rocks and they left having not power to thwart the work of the Lord even using revelations from the wrong source.

I know we have a seer stone in the church today but I do not know what it looks like and I have never found any source telling us where it is kept or who can use it. We sustain all of the council of the 12 as seers so I assume that if they were allowed to do so, any one of them could use it. I did find a very good talk by Elder Nelson on the subject. So I will leave it to him to say what we know and what we do not know. you can read it in the Ensign Magazine from an address given 25 June 1992 at a seminar for new mission presidents, Missionary Training Center, Provo, Utah.

NOTE: Nothing in any of these Sunday Sermons is intended to represent the official doctrines of the Church Of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. They are strictly instructions and teachings from Cordell and Janice Vail to their family.

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