This section of the Bible continues the specifications for the tabernacle, its furnishings and the High Priest’s garments. Last week I emphasized that the tabernacle is the first prophetic type of the church in the Bible. This pattern is continued throughout history. Following the tabernacle was the First Temple in Jerusalem. That was followed by what I call the Living Temple. The Living Temple is made up of Jesus and His church. Finally, there is the city of New Jerusalem revealed in the book of Revelation. In each case, these provide the place for God’s dwelling.
When we consider the reason why God chose to deliver Israel out of Egypt, there are many responses. Some would say that God did it simply to demonstrate His power and dominance over mankind and man’s environment. Of course, this is true. Others might add that God did this for humanitarian reasons because Israel was suffering under the Egyptian tyranny. This would be true also. But what did God say was the reason? God declared:
“And I will dwell among the sons of Israel and will be their God. “And they shall know that I am the Lord their God who brought them out of the land of Egypt, that I might dwell among them; I am the Lord their God.” (Exodus 29:45-46)
The Genesis account portrays a picture of God communing directly with man in the Garden. Evidently, the process of redemption is God’s plan to restore this open communion with the human community. God is preparing to come to planet earth and to dwell in the midst of mankind. Much of Christian theology is focused on the concept that Christians, after death, go to heaven or as I call it, the “happy place where dead people go”. This concept was introduced into early Christianity by the Gnostics. After the death experience, a person steps out of the “space-time continuum” and stands in the presence of God. Paul declared,
“Therefore, being always of good courage, and knowing that while we are at home in the body we are absent from the Lord – for we walk by faith, not by sight – we are of good courage, I say, and prefer rather to be absent from the body and to be at home with the Lord.” (2 Corinthians 5:6-8)
At the Lord return, He will step back into the “space-time continuum” and bring those who belong to Him. As He returns the Living Temple will be established in Jerusalem in the midst of modern Israel. We might say that God is sending Jesus and His Church back in order for God to dwell in the midst of His people just as He did when He brought Israel out of Egypt.
Rather than attempting to describe the Priest’s garments in detail, I will focus on the shoulder pieces and the breast piece. The names of the tribes of Israel were written on these parts of the garment. On the turban was inscribed, “Holy to the Lord”. We would maintain that Messiah Jesus is the High Priest today. His mind is focused on the Holiness of God. He bears the burden of Israel on His shoulders and the tribes of Israel are always on His heart.
In the breast piece was two mysterious items called “Urim and Thummim”. We do not know what these items were or how they were used. However, the High Priest discerned the will of God concerning any matter by use of the “Urim and Thummim”.
We do know that the tabernacle was highly symbolic and served as types of future things.
The word “Urim” means lights. “Thummim” is defined as integrity or wholeness. In the Greek translation of the Hebrew Bible (translation dating about 200 years before the ministry of Messiah Jesus) the Greek word “aletheia” is used for “Thummim”. “Aletheia” means truth. So we could say that through these two objects and their use, the High Priest received “light and truth”. Messiah Jesus declared that,
“But an hour is coming, and now is, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for such people the Father seeks to be His worshipers. “God is spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truth.” (John 4:23-24)
Jesus is speaking of the Holy Spirit who would lead believers into all truth (John 16:13).
Jesus could have said that “God is spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in Urim and Thummim”.
Is the Holy Spirit actively reigning in your heart? Are you making Jesus Lord in this way? Paul declared that,
“..no one can say, “Jesus is Lord,” except by the Holy Spirit.” (1 Corinthians 12:3b)