And place the Urim and Thummim in the breastpiece of judgment, so that they will also be over Aaron's heart whenever he comes before the LORD. Aaron will continually carry the judgment of the sons of Israel over his heart before the LORD.
I. OBSERVE HOW THE INDIVIDUAL IS HERE SUBORDINATED TO THE OFFICE. Jehovah tells Moses here, amid the solemnities of the mount, that his brother Aaron and Aaron's sons are to be taken for service in the priest's office; but no word is said concerning the characters of any of these men, not even Aaron himself. There is a demand that those who made the priestly garments should be wise-hearted, men with a spirit of wisdom which Jehovah himself would put into them; but nothing is said as to Aaron himself being wise-hearted. Nor is there any indication given beforehand of any personal fitness that he had for the office. We gather much as to the way in which God had been training Moses; but Aaron so far as we can see, seems to have been led by a way that he knew not. All the commandment to Moses is, "take to thee Aaron thy brother." He is indicated by a natural relation, and not by anything that suggests spiritual fitness. It is interesting to compare the utter absence of any reference here to personal character with the minute details of what constitutes fitness for bishop and deacon, as we find these details in the epistles to Timothy and Titus. In the old dispensation where there was but the shadow of good things to come, the trappings of the official and the ceremonies of the office were of more importance than the character of any individual holder. The purpose of Jehovah was best served, in proportion as the people, beholding Aaron, forgot that it was Aaron, and were chiefly impressed by the fact that they were looking on the appointed priest of the Most High.
II. OBSERVE WHAT WAS AIMED AT IN THE CONSTRUCTION OF THE PRIESTLY GARMENTS. They were to be for glory and for beauty. Not only different from the garments of the common people, but much more splendid. Gold was worked into the very substance of these garments; precious stones glittered upon them; and everything was done to make them beautiful and impressive. Nor was the splendour of these garments for a mere occasional revelation. Though not worn constantly, yet they had to be assumed for some part of every day; and thus all eyes were continually directed to symbols of the glory, beauty, and perfection which God was aiming to produce in the character of his people. There was as yet no finding of these things in human nature. The gold of human nature could not yet be purified from its debasing dross; but here for a symbol of the refined and perfected man, was gold, pure and bright, we may imagine, as ever came out of the furnace; and here were these precious stones, inestimably more precious since the tribal names were graven on them, and with the preciousness crowned when they took their place on the shoulders and breasts of the priest. Thus, whenever these stones flashed in the light, they spoke forth afresh the great truth, that this priest so gloriously attired, was the representative of the people before God; not a representative whom they had elected for themselves, and who would therefore go to God on a peradventure, but one who, because God himself had chosen him, could not fail to be acceptable. The principle underlying the direction to make these splendid garments is that which underlies the use of all trappings by government and authority. The outward shows of kingly state, the crown, the sceptre, the throne, the royal robes - these may not be impressive now as once they were; but they have been very serviceable once, and may still serve an important purpose, even though it be not easily perceived. It might make a difference in the administration of justice, if the garb of those who are the chief administrators were to differ nothing in public from what it is in private.
III. OBSERVE THAT TO SHOW FURTHER THE IMPORTANCE ATTACHED TO THESE GARMENTS, GOD HIMSELF PROVIDED SKILL FOR THE MAKING OF THEM. Much skill might be needed, far more than could be guessed by the observer, to make these garments graceful and impressive. What was all the richness of the material unless there was also dextrous, tasteful, and sympathetic workmanship? The gold, and the blue, and the purple, and all the rest of the promising materials would have availed nothing in some hands to avert a clumsy and cumbrous result. The people provided all they could, and it was a great deal; but God had to provide the craftsmen in order to make full use of the people's gift. - Y.
Ephesians 5:13, "Whatsoever doth make manifest is light." The high priest, with the Urim in his breastplate, became the channel by which God made manifest His counsels. The Lord Jesus, as the great High Priest, makes known the counsels and purposes of God. He is light; and in Him is no darkness at all; so that the mind and will of God can be perfectly revealed to Him, and can by Him be communicated to His saints. He is the brightness or shining forth of God's glory, the irradiation of God. The Thummim also, or all perfections of truth and holiness, dwell in Him. Light and truth, love and holiness, grace and righteousness are inseparable. Sometimes we find the Urim mentioned, without the Thummim (Numbers 27:21; 1 Samuel 28:6). From these two passages it is clear that by means of the Urim, or lights, in the breastplate of the high priest, the counsel, judgment, and prophetic guidance of Jehovah were revealed. In three other passages (Deuteronomy 33:8; Ezra 2:63; Nehemiah 7:65), the Urim and Thummim are mentioned together. "Urim" is also translated "fire" and fires (Isaiah 24:15; Isaiah 31:9; Isaiah 44:16; Isaiah 47:14; Isaiah 50:11; Ezekiel 5:2). In the vision of the Son of Man (Revelation 1:12-16), the eyes of the High Priest, in the midst of the seven golden candlesticks, were as a flame of fire. The lights and perfections of God searched into the ways of the seven Churches; and the Priest of the Most High could say, as He addressed each separately, "I know thy works," and could give a word of encouragement or of rebuke, according as it was needed.
The Urim and the Thummim.
I. THE STONES REPRESENTING THE CHURCH, THAT WERE BORNE UPON THE HIGH PRIEST'S BREAST AND THE HIGH PRIEST'S SHOULDERS, CONNECT THEMSELVES WITH THE URIM AND THE THUMMIM. In some way or other, it is quite clear that God was pleased to reveal His will in connection with these twelve stones. In what way it is very difficult to determine. There are these possible interpretations. It may be that it pleased God at certain times to throw a miraculous light upon these twelve different coloured stones, which did in some way write His mind; either by the initiatory letters, or by some signs which were familiar to the high priest, God did, by the means of these twelve precious stones, representing the twelve tribes, convey His will to the high priest — that he might again convey it to the people. But the closest investigation that has been given to the subject does not lead to that conclusion — and those who are the most competent to speak do not adopt that interpretation. It has been rather supposed that these stones were not made themselves the channels or the mediums by which God conveyed His will, but that they accredited, as it were, and empowered the high priest, when he was before God, authenticated the high priest, that then God seeing him in the fulness of his priesthood, was pleased to convey spiritually and not materially by these stones to his mind what God had in His own mind upon the subject that was transferred to him for consultation.
II. Consider now practically WHAT IS THAT WHICH IS TO US THE URIM AND THUMMIM? — AND HOW SHOULD WE CONSULT GOD, AND OBTAIN OUR ANSWERS?
1. And here let me speak to you of the very great importance of going to God very often consultingly. In prayer, pray consultingly — in reading, read consultingly. Always consult God first, before you ask any man — if possible, before you ask yourself. Before you go to a thought, if possible, ask God to take the initiative — ask God first to speak even before your own heart speaks.
2. You must be very careful, whenever you go to consult God, that there are two conditions.(1) That your mind is not pre-occupied, that you be free, that you do not bring pre-conceived and settled ideas, and then ask God to fall in with your view. You will be surprised, if you examine your own hearts, how very generally you do that. You have settled what you wish, and then you go to God to persuade God, as it were, to follow your design. Try to go to God as the blank sheet, that God will write there, upon a mind quite free, His own entire will.(2) And again, it is quite essential, if you will have answers to your consultings of God, that you should have thoroughly and honestly made up your mind to follow whatever you find to be, believe to be God's guidance. If you do not go to God with that true determination, you will consult him in vain.(3) If we are to attain Urim and Thummim in our consultations with God, we must do it through priest-hood — in the recognition of the priesthood of the Lord Jesus Christ.
III. THERE ARE MANY WAYS IN WHICH GOD MAY GIVE US THE URIM AND THUMMIM TO DIRECT OUR STEPS.
1. By a light breaking on some passage of the Bible.
2. By the Spirit of God illuminating our own minds.
(J. Vaughan, M. A.)
1. On their own account. Of all earthly objects, these precious stones are the most lustrous, and emit light of themselves. Like the stars they shine in the darkest night, and for that reason they have been called the "stars of earth." Are they not, then, well called lights? Thummim signifies perfection. The stones, from their brilliancy, purity, and uncommon beauty, are perhaps the most striking emblems which earthly objects furnish of truth or perfection, and are therefore not inappropriately named "Thummim."
2. On account of their being the badge or ornament which it was necessary for the high priest to wear when he consulted Jehovah. The object of the high priest was to get light on some dark subject, or to arrive at the truth on some matter he could not discover otherwise, or to give a righteous decision in cases in which his knowledge or wisdom was deficient, and such as would accord with innocence and justice. For these reasons the gems seem to be appropriately called "Urim and Thummim."
3. On account of their representing the children of Israel. The names of all the tribes being on the stones — one name on each — the Israelites might see in these stones an emblem of what it was designed they should become, before they were meet for being worshippers in the heavenly temple; and the high priest might be reminded by them that his mission was to bring the pious Israelite into that state of perfection. Like these gems, man by nature is of the earth earthy. Both have their origin in mother earth. Yet both, when polished, may shine like the stars of the firmament,
(H. W. Soltau.)
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