Thursday, September 8, 2011

Urim and Thummim, NOT a magic 8 ball.

I've had some matters on my mind that are weightier than sewing, this is one of them. 

Insert the Urim and Thummim into the sacred chestpiece so they will be carried over Aaron's heart when he goes into the Lord's presence.  In this way, Aaron will always carry over his heart the objects used to determine the Lord's will for His people whenever he goes in before the Lord.  Exodus 28:30

The Urim and Thummim allusions in the Bible have always bothered me.  Why?  Because God takes the initiative in communicating with us- He always tells us what we need to know, maybe not everything we want to know, but what we need to know.   God hasn't always chosen to communicate to us in the same way, but He has always been the initiator.  He has used prophets, angels, dreams, and of course, His Word, the Bible.  Another reason the Urim and Thummim have bothered me is because divination is prohibited in the Scriptures and the Urim and Thummim have always seemed like divination to me.   So there, that's my honest confession.  But, as I've been reading the Bible through in 90 days, this is my fifth time in less than 2 years at that rate, I've come to see so many connections between the Old and New Testaments.  I love typology, just check out my Advent label and you'll see how I love to see Christ in the Old Testament.  Someone famous, I don't remember who, once said that the New Testament is the Old Testament revealed and the Old Testament is the New Testament concealed.  In other words, their message is the same.  They both reveal God's redemptive plan which culminates in the person and work of Christ.  I've practically given it away already, but guess what I saw in the Urim and Thummim this time?   You'll have to read on to find out.

If anyone is still reading at this point, (Hi Mom), I'm going to write the remainder of this post differently than I normally would.  I'm going to go ahead and give my conclusion first and then I'm going to tell you why I think this is right.  

I think the Urim and Thummim are a foreshadowing or type of how God is going to communicate with His people in the future.  I think they typologically depict how God illuminates His Word for His people. 

Here's why:

1.  The terms Urim and Thummim have been translated as light and truth (Lux et Veritas which appears on Yale University's seal was translated in this way from Urim and Thummim), or revelation/teaching and truth.  God's Word is a light unto our path and a lamp unto our feet (Ps 119:105).  And His Word is truth (John 17:17).  If I were only considering the meaning of the words Urim and Thummim, I would say I think it foreshadows the complete revelation of God, His Word which He was just beginning the process of revealing to His people at the time He gave Moses the ceremonial law.  But, I think there's more to it than that.

2.  The Urim and Thummim were thought, by Jewish tradition, to communicate an answer by lighting up or illuminating certain gemstones.  (Remember there were 12 gemstones, one for each tribe of Israel, on the priest's chestpiece of decision and the Urim and Thummim were placed above these.)  So not only do the terms Urim and Thummim speak of illuminating truth, but that is how they worked.  Now, tell me you don't think Urim and Thummim when you read these verses where Jesus is telling His disciples about the coming work of the Holy Spirit.

When the Spirit of truth comes, He will guide you into all truth.  He will not speak on His own, but will tell you what He has heard.  He will tell you about the future.  He will bring Me glory by telling you whatever He receives from Me.  All that belongs to the Father is mine; this is why I said, "The Spirit will tell you whatever He receives from Me."  John 16:13-14

Furthermore, there's a connection in timing.  Moses went up to Mount Sinai to receive the law from God, including these instructions, two lunar months (7 weeks, or 50 days) after the Exodus.  This would be celebrated by Israel as the Feast of Weeks, also called Pentecost.  The Urim and Thummim were a part of the law given to Moses on the first Pentecost and the Holy Spirit was given to indwell and guide believers at the first Pentecost after Christ our Passover Lamb was crucified, resurrected, and ascended into heaven to rule at the right hand of God the Father.  I think the Urim and Thummim foreshadowed the outpouring of the Spirit of truth that would come many Pentecosts in the future. 

3.  The Word of God is also in a mysterious way, the second member of the Trinity.  When God spoke the creation into existence, it was through the Son.  Jesus is God's Word incarnate.

In the beginning was the Word and the Word was with God and the Word was God...  And the Word became flesh and dwellt among us and we beheld His glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth.  (John 1:1, 14)

Why do I make this point?  Because all of the priestly garments, in fact, all of the ceremonial law foreshadowed Christ our Messiah.  Jesus fulfilled every type and shadow in  the Levitical system, including the priestly garments.  So it makes sense to also see the Urim and Thummim in this light.

Ephod- The ephod contained two onyx stones with the names of the 12 tribes of Israel engraved upon them so that the priest would carry them on his shoulders as a constant reminder whever going before the Lord (Exodus 28:12).  In other words, the priest represented the people to God, he acted as their mediator.  We know Christ fulfilled this role.  He is our great High Priest and He intercedes for us with God (Hebrews 4:14-16).

Robe-  The blue robe of the priest had to be worn when entering the presence of God or he would die.  (Exodus 28:35)  Likewise, none of us can stand before God without the imputed righteousness of Christ.  

Tunic- The white linen of the tunic, and other priestly garments, gives us a picture of purity. This is why it was so important for the priest to undergo cleansing prior to putting on the garments. 

Turban- The turban of the high priest, according to Jewish tradition, was also flat on top representing spiritual perfection, as in having reached the top.  Of course, no high priest was perfect until Jesus.  So this, too was ultimately fulfilled in Christ.  The medallion attached to the turban was to read "Holy to the Lord."  The priest would symbolically bear the guilt of the people before God and must wear his turban with the medallion on his forehead so the Lord would accept the people (Exodus 28:38).  Again, we have a picture of redemption- Christ bearing our guilt and sin, while God imputes Christ's righteousness to us when we believe.

Sash-  The high priest's sash was blue, purple, and red, the same colors as the curtains of the Tabernacle.  Blue is for righteousness, purple for royalty, and red for atonement.  These colors and the way the sash held everything else together also speaks of Christ.

It would be inconsistent to interpret the high priest's other garments in light of Christ, but the Urim and Thummim in light of ancient Babylonian or Egyptian sorcery.  God's revelation was progressive.  The protoevangelium in Genesis 3:15 gives a sneak peak into His redemptive plan, but not the whole story.  Likewise, when God gave Moses and the people of Israel the Levitical law, He gave them a picture of redemption.  When God promised David that his son would reign on the throne of Judah for all time, He was giving more information.  So, bit by bit, in the pages of the Old Testament we see Christ, the ultimate and original plan for our redemption.  Aren't you thankful that we're able to look back and see God's perfect, complete plan from the beginning of His revelation.  The Urim and Thummim were a picture of how God communicates with us now.  He doesn't use a magic 8 ball.  His Spirit of truth indwells believers and illuminates His Word for us.  Discernment comes from His revealed truth, (Urim and Thummim), His Word.   

1 comment:

  1. I do love your commentary especially when I have enough uninterrupted time to read it!



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I'm an on-the-run mom to 6 kids who studied and taught exercise science in a previous life. I love all things running, nutrition, and health-related. I usually run at zero dark thirty in the morning and am often quite hungry before, during, and after my run, but I live a rich, full, blessed life with my children, family, and friends. My faith in God is my anchor, and looking to Him and His promises allows me to live fully even when life circumstances are difficult. While running gives me an appetite, my desire is to hunger and thirst for righteousness more than for physical food.