Embracing Grace: Am I after God’s Heart or Mine? Part 2

A 365 Day Devotional Journal

Day 22 

Scripture: Proverbs 8:22-32; Exodus 28:28-30; Exodus 39:9-14; Isaiah 59 (Amplified); Exodus 31:2-4; 2 Chronicles 1:11-12a; Job 12:12-13; Job 28:12-13, 23, 27-28; Deuteronomy 8; Deuteronomy 30:10-20; Psalm 37:30-31; Psalm 51:6; Psalm 111:10; Proverbs 1:7; Proverbs 3:19-23; Proverbs 8:22-36; Ephesians 6.

The High Priest, detail from the illustration from a Bible card published by the Providence Lithograph Company, 1907.

As a young believer in my late teens, I remember how excited I became when God first cracked open some of the jewels in the book of Deuteronomy. I vividly recall a phone conversation with a mentor of mine at the time, a woman in the church who was recognized by the pastor as a wise woman who moved in the prophetic.

She listened eagerly to my excitement over the Word, but as soon as I mentioned Deuteronomy, she brushed me off with “Oh… the Old Testament. Be careful you don’t get caught up in legalism.” Her remark stunned me but out of respect I kept silent. Legalism was the furthest thing from my heart at the time. Rather, it was the joy I found in experiencing God’s presence in my time of quiet in His Word, in seeing Him open up for me what He calls life.

I do not know where many of us get the idea from, that the Old Testament is not as important as the New. Jesus did not do away with the law (the old). He fulfilled it; therefore it is of great value to me as a follower of Jesus to study the entire Bible. (Legalism only becomes an issue in our life when we take on the role of making self justified, a role that only Jesus can fill.)

If you were to conduct a word study on heart in the Bible, you would quickly discover as did I that this is no short-term endeavor. I literally was inundated with numerous scripture references discussing issues of the heart. It must be a pretty important subject for so much to be written about it in God’s Word. A particular verse stood out to me the other day:

“They shall bind the breastpiece by its rings to the rings of the ephod with a blue cord, so that it will be on the skillfully woven band of the ephod, and that the breastpiece will not come loose from the ephod. Aaron shall carry the names of the sons of Israel in the breastpiece of judgment over his heart when he enters the holy place, for a memorial before the LORD continually. You shall put in the breastpiece of judgment the Urim and the Thummim, and they shall be over Aaron’s heart when he goes in before the LORD; and Aaron shall carry the judgment of the sons of Israel over his heart before the LORD continually.1

Various translations refer to this breastpiece as Aaron’s “breastpiece of judgment” the “breastplate of judgment”, or the “sacred chestpiece for decision.”  Because the instructions for making the breastpiece included a folded layer of double stitched linen, some have concluded that the urim and thummin were placed in a pocket behind the breastpiece as a place to store them. While this is possible, the part that struck me was the instruction to, like the breastpiece, place them over the high priest’s heart as a memorial continually when he went before God’s presence in the holy place.

Two arrangements of the twelve stones are possible: in parallel rows, as we commonly see them today in modern depictions of the breastpiece, or in a line as a perimeter, mimicking the arrangement of the encampment of Israel2. The city wall depicted in Revelation refers to these stones.

“In the New Testament Book of Revelation is the description of a city wall, with each layer of stones in the wall being from a different material; in the original Koine Greek, the layers are given as iaspis, sapphiros, chalcedon, smaragdos, sardonyx, sardion, chrysolithos, beryllos, topazion, chrysoprason, yacinthos, amethystos. This list appears to be based on the Septuagint’s version of the list of jewels in the Breastplate – if the top half of the breastplate was rotated by 180 degrees, and the bottom half turned upside down, with Onchion additionally swapping places with Topazion, the lists become extremely similar…”3

Aaron was to wear the breastpiece over his heart continually as he went before the Lord in the Holy Place. In addition, he was to wear in the breastpiece of judgement the urim and thummin, which he used when consulting God for making wise decisions. Not much is known about the urim and thummin, other than it was a tool for receiving direction from God. Much is speculated about the nature of the urim and thummin itself, whether they were stones that were thrown like dice, or something else entirely different. The word “urim” means life, while we are not sure what the word “thummin” means.4 A footnote in the New King James, however, states that the urim and thummin literally is the Lights and the Perfections (compare Leviticus 8:8).5

Deuteronomy chapter 30 records God speaking to Israel, telling them that He has set before them life and death, the blessing and the curse. In verse 14, He says “But the word is very near you, in your mouth and in your mind and in your heart, so that you can do it.”6

Isaiah 59 says that the Lord has put on a breastplate of righteousness and speaks forward to Jesus as messiah and intercessor, who will write the law of God inwardly on our hearts. And, again, in Ephesians, we are instructed to put on the breastplate of righteousness (Ephesians 6).

I believe that Aaron’s breastplate of judgment and the believers’ breastplate of righteousness are one and the same, the first being a type and shadow of the second. Harper’s Online Etymology Dictionary provides the following in their word origin of righteous:

“early 16c. alteration of rightwise,  from O.E. rihtwis,  from riht  (see right) + wis  “wise, way, manner.” Suffix altered by influence of courteous, etc. Meaning “genuine, excellent” is c.1900 in jazz slang.7

Of judgment, www.dictionary.com provides this definition:

“the ability to judge, make a decision, or form an opinion objectively, authoritatively, and wisely, especially in matters affecting action; good sense; discretion: a man of sound judgment.”8

Both judgment and righteousness involve the use of wisdom.

The Old Testament is full of types and shadows. Aaron was to wear over his heart the breastpiece of judgment with a stone for each of the twelve tribes of Israel, along with the urim and thummin (the Lights and the Perfections) over his heart. As New Testament believers, we are called priests. Jesus is our high priest and intercessor. He is continually before the Lord in Heaven at His right hand.

God with wisdom (the Holy Spirit) founded the heavens and the earth. He counsels us repeatedly in Proverbs to seek Wisdom (to be filled with the Spirit of God). The urim and thummin were used to consult God for wise decisions in life. Urim means life. The Urim and Thummin literally is the Lights and the Perfections. God told Israel that He had set before them life and death, therefore choose life. We are told to seek Wisdom (from God) as for hidden treasure, as for rubies, and that nothing compares to her.

We are promised the Wisdom of God written inwardly on our hearts.

Two types of wisdom exist in the earth today: the wisdom of man and the wisdom of God. At any given time we may choose which of these by which we wish to operate. Both Ephesians 4:17-19 and Romans 1:20-22 speak how the heart, or understanding, can be darkened through the hardness of the heart, and that when this happens, while professing to be wise, man becomes a fool.

Choosing Life determines the condition of the heart.

Pursuing God’s Wisdom enlightens the heart.

Continual seeking after God (and His Wisdom) preserves the heart.

When we do these things, our hearts are filled with God’s Wisdom, His light and Perfection. This is why Solomon wrote that wisdom is better than jewels, gold, or silver in Proverbs 8:11. This is what Paul prayed for us in Ephesians1:18-19 when he said

“I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened, so that you will know what is the hope of His calling, what are the riches of the glory of His inheritance in the saints, and what is the surpassing greatness of His power toward us who believe.”9

When our heart is actively choosing life, pursuing God’s wisdom, and seeking after God, it truly then is a heart like David’s, one that is following after God’s own heart.

Read: Proverbs 8:22-32; Exodus 28:28-30; Exodus 39:9-14; Isaiah 59 (Amplified); Exodus 31:2-4; 2 Chronicles 1:11-12a; Job 12:12-13; Job 28:12-13, 23, 27-28; Deuteronomy 8; Deuteronomy 30:10-20; Psalm 37:30-31; Psalm 51:6; Psalm 111:10; Proverbs 1:7; Proverbs 3:19-23; Proverbs 8:22-36; Ephesians 6. Journal your private thoughts.

Father God, perfect are Your ways, Your precepts, Your commandments. Thank you for writing them on my heart. Conform me into the image of Jesus.  Amen.

_____________________

1Exodus 28:28-30. Italics and bold italics mine. Scripture taken from the NEW AMERICAN STANDARD BIBLE®, Copyright © 1960,1962,1963,1968,1971,1972,1973,1975,1977,1995 by The Lockman Foundation. Used by permission. www.lockman.org
2A very interesting discussion on the hoshen, or breastplate may be found at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hoshen.
3Excerpt from article, “Hoshen.” http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hoshen.
4http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hoshen.
5Exodus 28:30. Footnote taken from the New King James Version. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved. www.nelsonbibles.com
6Deuteronomy 30:14. Italics mine. Scripture quotations taken from the Amplified® Bible, Copyright © 1954, 1958, 1962, 1964, 1965, 1987 by The Lockman Foundation. Used by permission.  www.Lockman.org
7“righteous.” Online Etymology Dictionary. Douglas Harper, Historian. 26 Feb. 2011. <Dictionary.com http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/righteous>.
8“judgment.” Dictionary.com Unabridged. Random House, Inc. 26 Feb. 2011. <Dictionary.com http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/judgment>.
9Ephesians 1:18-19. Italics mine. Scripture taken from the NEW AMERICAN STANDARD BIBLE®, Copyright ©  1960,1962,1963,1968,1971,1972,1973,1975,1977,1995 by The Lockman Foundation. Used by permission. www.lockman.org

Copyright © 2011, Érin Elise

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