The Urim and the Thummim

 •  9 min. read  •  grade level: 8
"And thou shalt put in the breast-plate of judgment the Urim and the Thummim: and they shall be upon Aaron's heart when he goeth in before the Lord: and Aaron shall bear the judgment of the children of Israel upon his heart continually." Ex. 28:3030And thou shalt put in the breastplate of judgment the Urim and the Thummim; and they shall be upon Aaron's heart, when he goeth in before the Lord: and Aaron shall bear the judgment of the children of Israel upon his heart before the Lord continually. (Exodus 28:30)
The breastplate was made of the same materials as the ephod: and it was doubled or folded, so as to form a bag, into which the Urim and the Thummim were put. As to the Urim and the Thummim, whether they were precious stones bearing those significant names, or what they were, no one is able at present to decide. Urim means Lights, being the plural of the word very commonly used for Light. Thummim, Perfections. In the Septuagint these two words are translated by delosis and aletheia (Manifestation and Truth.) These mysterious contents of the breastplate seem to direct our thoughts to the heart of the Lord Jesus, as containing all lights and perfections, all grace and truth, all mercies and righteousness. In Him was light: and He manifested forth that light; He declared the Father. He is the light of the glory of God: all fullness of light dwells in Him. The Septuagint translation, Manifestation, is not an inappropriate expression, though it is rather a paraphrase than a translation.
We are told, in Ephesians, 5:13, " Whatsoever doth make manifest is light." The high priest, with the Urim in his breast-plate, 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. Num. 27:2121And he shall stand before Eleazar the priest, who shall ask counsel for him after the judgment of Urim before the Lord: at his word shall they go out, and at his word they shall come in, both he, and all the children of Israel with him, even all the congregation. (Numbers 27:21). The Lord, speaking to Moses of Joshua, says, " He shall stand before Eleazer the priest, who shall ask counsel for him after the judgment of Urim, before Jehovah." In 1 Sam. xxviii. 6, it is said of Saul, that " when he inquired of Jehovah, Jehovah answered him not, neither by dreams, nor by Urim, nor by prophets."
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 James 1:1717Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and cometh down from the Father of lights, with whom is no variableness, neither shadow of turning. (James 1:17), God is called the Father of lights, from whom every good gift and every perfect gift cometh down, and with whom is no variableness, neither shadow of turning. Here we have God as the Father of Urim, or lights; and He is also Thummim, or perfections; for with Him is no variableness, not the shade of a turn. " He is the Rock; His work is perfect; for all His ways are judgment: a God of truth, and without iniquity, just and right is He." Deut. 32:44He is the Rock, his work is perfect: for all his ways are judgment: a God of truth and without iniquity, just and right is he. (Deuteronomy 32:4). "His way is also perfect." Psa. 18:3030As for God, his way is perfect: the word of the Lord is tried: he is a buckler to all those that trust in him. (Psalm 18:30). His great High Priest, the Son, makes manifest the heart and works and ways of the Father; and through Him, every good gift and every perfect gift comes down to us from above, from the Father of lights. It may here be observed, that the word translated " without blemish," with reference to the passover-lamb, and the sacrifices in Leviticus and Numbers, is the same as is also translated perfect," in fact, very similar to the word Thummim. The Lord Jesus first manifested Himself as the unblemished Lamb of God; and now He is the holy, harmless, undefiled High Priest, full of all "lights and perfections," and revealing the Father of lights," (James 1:1717Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and cometh down from the Father of lights, with whom is no variableness, neither shadow of turning. (James 1:17),) " the Father of mercies," (2 Cor. 1:33Blessed be God, even the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies, and the God of all comfort; (2 Corinthians 1:3),) "the Father of glory," (Eph. 1:1717That the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give unto you the spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of him: (Ephesians 1:17),) and " the Father of spirits," (Heb. 12:99Furthermore we have had fathers of our flesh which corrected us, and we gave them reverence: shall we not much rather be in subjection unto the Father of spirits, and live? (Hebrews 12:9).)
In three other passages, the Urim and Thummim are mentioned together. Deut. 33:88And of Levi he said, Let thy Thummim and thy Urim be with thy holy one, whom thou didst prove at Massah, and with whom thou didst strive at the waters of Meribah; (Deuteronomy 33:8); Ezra 2:6363And the Tirshatha said unto them, that they should not eat of the most holy things, till there stood up a priest with Urim and with Thummim. (Ezra 2:63); and Neh. 7:6565And the Tirshatha said unto them, that they should not eat of the most holy things, till there stood up a priest with Urim and Thummim. (Nehemiah 7:65). " Urim " is also translated " fire " and " fires." Isa. 24:1515Wherefore glorify ye the Lord in the fires, even the name of the Lord God of Israel in the isles of the sea. (Isaiah 24:15), Isa. 31: 9, Isa 44:1616He burneth part thereof in the fire; with part thereof he eateth flesh; he roasteth roast, and is satisfied: yea, he warmeth himself, and saith, Aha, I am warm, I have seen the fire: (Isaiah 44:16), and Isa 47:1414Behold, they shall be as stubble; the fire shall burn them; they shall not deliver themselves from the power of the flame: there shall not be a coal to warm at, nor fire to sit before it. (Isaiah 47:14) Isa 1:1111To what purpose is the multitude of your sacrifices unto me? saith the Lord: I am full of the burnt offerings of rams, and the fat of fed beasts; and I delight not in the blood of bullocks, or of lambs, or of he goats. (Isaiah 1:11); Ezek. 5:22Thou shalt burn with fire a third part in the midst of the city, when the days of the siege are fulfilled: and thou shalt take a third part, and smite about it with a knife: and a third part thou shalt scatter in the wind; and I will draw out a sword after them. (Ezekiel 5:2). In the vision of the Son of Man, (Rev. 1:12-1612And I turned to see the voice that spake with me. And being turned, I saw seven golden candlesticks; 13And in the midst of the seven candlesticks one like unto the Son of man, clothed with a garment down to the foot, and girt about the paps with a golden girdle. 14His head and his hairs were white like wool, as white as snow; and his eyes were as a flame of fire; 15And his feet like unto fine brass, as if they burned in a furnace; and his voice as the sound of many waters. 16And he had in his right hand seven stars: and out of his mouth went a sharp twoedged sword: and his countenance was as the sun shineth in his strength. (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. " Holiness becometh thine house, 0 Lord, forever." Psa. 93:55Thy testimonies are very sure: holiness becometh thine house, O Lord, for ever. (Psalm 93:5). And thus the Priest of that house marks everything that defiles, and raises His warning voice against the delusions of His saints, in order that He may restore them to fellowship with the Father and the Son; and that they may worship the Lord in the beauty of holiness. " The Father seeketh such to worship Him." Aaron was to bear the names of the children of Israel in the breastplate of judgment upon his heart for a memorial before the Lord continually. The Urim and Thummim also, placed in the breastplate of judgment, were to be upon Aaron's heart, that he might bear the-judgment of the children of Israel upon his heart before the Lord continually. Ex. 28:29,3029And Aaron shall bear the names of the children of Israel in the breastplate of judgment upon his heart, when he goeth in unto the holy place, for a memorial before the Lord continually. 30And thou shalt put in the breastplate of judgment the Urim and the Thummim; and they shall be upon Aaron's heart, when he goeth in before the Lord: and Aaron shall bear the judgment of the children of Israel upon his heart before the Lord continually. (Exodus 28:29‑30). Thus the names and the judgment of Israel were always on the heart of the high priest when he appeared before the Lord. Their names, indelibly engraved on precious stones, shone out in beauty and glory before Jehovah. Not one was wanting; not one inferior to another; but each flashed out with his own peculiar luster and color, and each retained his own place in the firm setting of gold. The Lord Jesus, in anticipation of His cross, rendered up an account to God of those sheep committed to His care. " While I was with them in the world, I kept them in Thy name: those whom Thou gavest me I have kept; and none of them is lost, but the son of perdition, that the scripture might be fulfilled." John 17:1212While I was with them in the world, I kept them in thy name: those that thou gavest me I have kept, and none of them is lost, but the son of perdition; that the scripture might be fulfilled. (John 17:12). One indeed was missing from the twelve; one, of whom the Lord had previously said, " He is a devil," ( John 6:7070Jesus answered them, Have not I chosen you twelve, and one of you is a devil? (John 6:70)) and " not clean " (John 13:10, 1110Jesus saith to him, He that is washed needeth not save to wash his feet, but is clean every whit: and ye are clean, but not all. 11For he knew who should betray him; therefore said he, Ye are not all clean. (John 13:10‑11).) But even this did not account for his being lost. The true reason is here given: " that the scripture might be fulfilled." Now that same blessed Lord upholds firmly and deeply engraven on His heart, every child of God; so that we may boldly say, who shall separate us from the love of Christ? And He sustains each believer in the peculiar value and preciousness attaching to each in the estimate of God; so that when the jewels are made up, not one shall be wanting; but each shall retain eternally his own place in the heart of Christ, and in the glory of God. This seems to be represented by the names of the children of Israel being borne on the breastplate of judgment, on the heart of the high priest, before the Lord. Besides this, the judgment of the children of Israel was borne upon his heart. And this judgment was expressed by the Urim and Thummim placed in tire breastplate. In the former case there was an individual presentation of each name in glory and beauty. In this instance, there is a collective estimate of the whole assembly, as sustained in lights and perfections upon the heart of the high priest. In like manner, it is said of the Church as a whole, that Christ has " loved it, and given Himself for it, that He might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the word, that He might present it to Himself, a glorious church, not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing, but that it should be holy and without blemish." Eph. 5:25-2725Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it; 26That he might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the word, 27That he might present it to himself a glorious church, not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing; but that it should be holy and without blemish. (Ephesians 5:25‑27). He sustains it to this end, in a unity of lights and perfections on his heart before God; and He bears each individual, so that He shall present each also faultless in the presence of His glory with exceeding joy. God's judgment respecting the Church is, that it stands in the lights and perfections of Christ, accepted in the Beloved. The sentence is pronounced already-a verdict of full eternal approval: and the day will soon come, when altogether we shall be like Christ; for we shall see Him as He is. God commends His love towards us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. Rom. 5:88But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. (Romans 5:8). He bids us behold what manner of love He has bestowed on us, even that we should be called the sons of God: (1 John 3:11Behold, what manner of love the Father hath bestowed upon us, that we should be called the sons of God: therefore the world knoweth us not, because it knew him not. (1 John 3:1)) and the extent of His love is measured by that wondrous word of Christ-" Thou hast loved them, as thou hast loved me." John 17:2323I in them, and thou in me, that they may be made perfect in one; and that the world may know that thou hast sent me, and hast loved them, as thou hast loved me. (John 17:23). And the glory of the redeemed Church will be according to the manner and measure of this unspeakable love, of which the High Priest is even now the witness.
This ephod of glory and beauty, with its onyx-stones upon the shoulders, linked on with the breastplate of judgment, presented three memorials of Israel before the Lord. The onyx-stones upon the shoulders bore their names before the Lord according to their birth; a memorial of the strength and power with which they were upheld in the presence of Jehovah. Ex. 28:1212And thou shalt put the two stones upon the shoulders of the ephod for stones of memorial unto the children of Israel: and Aaron shall bear their names before the Lord upon his two shoulders for a memorial. (Exodus 28:12). And these stones were also stones of memorial unto the children of Israel themselves. They were to remember the power and glory with which they had been by birth connected. Every one with his name, according to the twelve tribes, graven on his own precious stone on the breastplate, was borne upon the heart of the high priest, when he went into the holy place. And the Urim and the Thummim, put in the breastplate of judgment, expressed God's judgment of the children of Israel also upon the heart of the high priest.
In the Septuagint, the breastplate is called Logeion or Oracle; since, by means of it, the high priest obtained oracular responses from God. Are we not instructed (amongst other things) in this truth? viz: that all the counsels of God are only to be learned through the Lord Jesus, the High Priest; and that all the purposes of God are closely connected with His own people, the Church of the present dispensation, and the Israel of the future. So that even the history of the world, and of the various nations and individuals inhabiting it, is inseparably connected with the glory of Christ in union with His saints, and His future reign with them over the earth.
The famine in Egypt was the occasion for Joseph's exaltation, and for bringing his brethren down into that country. And in the Lord's parable, (Luke 15) the famine in the distant land was one of the means which God used to make the wanderer think of his father's home. All things are by Christ and for Christ; and He is Head over all things to the Church.