Building upon my most prior post, The 4 kingdoms of Ezekiel, I will here discuss the waters flowing from the Tree of Life in Nephi’s vision of the Tree of Life.
It has long puzzled Book of Mormon readers how first the river running from the Tree of Life is pure, then later in Nephi’s vision these waters are recognized as the “filthiness” of the world. [1 Nephi 15:26-27]
How could this be? Were there two rivers? Nope! Just one.
Why are these living waters later, or farther down the river filthy? In short, because they run through lower worlds.
The symbolism of the Tree of Life spans the three degrees of glory, and so the blessings that emanate from the celestial kingdom, they flow like water through the terrestrial kingdom, and on into the telestial kingdom. This is the stepping down of the powers of God, to the inhabitants of each kingdom of glory. In each descending kingdom the manifestation of the blessings are coarser and weakened. Clearly the waters become less pure as they travel through this telestial world. As man defiles the world with sin, he pollutes the very blessing (waters) God pours out to him. The blessings of God become the “depths of hell.”
The Tree of Life has ten sephiroth or emanations/powers of God, and that among these is justice (Din or Gevurah - resulting from law). Nephi describes how the filthy water works as an “awful gulf” between the wicked and the righteous, he tells us that the “ justice of God did also divide the wicked from the righteous.” [1 Nephi 15:28-30]
This would be all very apparent to an ancient Israelite, but is a little harder for us to see.
A little more on the Living Waters can be found here.