“Also put the Urim and the Thummin in the breastpiece, so they may be over Aaron’s heart whenever he enters the presence of the Lord. Thus Aaron will always bear the means of making decisions for the Israelites over his heart before the Lord.”-Exodus 28:30
Let’s talk a little about the URIM and THUMMIM that the High Priest of Israel would use to determine God’s will in a particular situation.
The URIM and THUMMIM were two stones, one white and one black, that would give a yes or no answer to a specific question.
For instance, should Israel be preparing for battle, they would shake and toss the stones.
If the stones turned up black the Israelites would NOT go into battle, but if they turned up white, Israel would proceed into battle with the full confidence that they were in the will of the Lord.
This appears to be the only form of divination the Lord allowed the Israelites to practice.
Now an awesome aspect of the URIM and the THUMMIM is blocked from our understanding if we don’t understand Hebrew.
The transliteration of the above Hebrew would be ha-Urim veha-Tummim.
“HA” means “the” and “VE” means “and”.
Thus the above is literally “the URIM and the THUMMIM“
URIM means “light” and THUMMIM means “perfection”.
But technically speaking, these words are plurals (remember when you add “IM” to a Hebrew noun it become plural), so it should be possibly be best rendered as “Lights and Perfections”.
The idea is that light and perfection are the two most recognizable qualities of the Lord.
However, there is more.
In the New Testament, one of the titles the Lord is given is “the Alpha and the Omega”.
This basically signifies the “beginning” and the “end” because “Alpha” is the first letter of the Greek alphabet and “Omega” is the last.
This is equivalent to us saying in English “from A to Z“.
For example, if I was to say “he knows this book from A to Z”, I’m basically saying that person knows everything about that book from beginning to end and everything in between, right?
However, this “Alpha and Omega” idea is not a revelation unique to the New Testament.
It begins right here in Exodus because the first letter of URIM is ALEPH, which is the first letter of the Hebrew alphabet.
And the first letter of THUMMIM is TAV, which is the last letter of the Hebrew alphabet.
See the red and bolded letters from the Hebrew above.
The ALPHA in the NT is equivalent to the ALEPH in the OT.
And the OMEGA in the NT is equivalent to the TAV in the OT.
Again, the awesome and mind-blowing idea being expressed here is that the URIM and the THUMMIM represent every perfect part of God’s nature from A to Z.
Again, usage of the URIM and the THUMMIM were restricted to binary decision-making processes in those situations where there was a choice from two options.
Mathematically speaking, the answer would have to be of a “one or the other” or a “yes or no” nature.
“Should we go into battle or not?”
“Should I marry her or not?” etcetera.
Now although the specific use of the URIM and the THUMMIM is only mentioned about 3 or 4 times in the TANACH (TANACH is referring to the “Old Testament” for you newbies), sometimes we’ll come across those Bible passages that say a decision was arrived at “by means of the Ephod”.
Remember that the EPHOD includes the Breastplate and the pouch that contained the URIM and the THUMMIM.
The point is that there was no other means of making a decision with the EPHOD other than using the URIM and the THUMMIM.
So when you hear that a decision was made “by means of the EPHOD”, this means the URIM and the THUMMIM were employed.
However, it appears that after King David’s reign, use of the URIM and the THUMMIM disappeared.
There is a lot of scholarly debate about this.
Some scholars say that the office of prophet replaced the use of the URIM and the THUMMIM.
However, if that’s the case, how come we still find Ezra using this device to determine the ancestry of the priests who returned from the exile in Ezra 2:63?
Nevertheless, after this the Bible never mentions the URIM and the THUMMIM again.
To conclude, there are two important points you need to keep in mind.
First, the URIM and the THUMMIM were an integral part of the breastplate.
You CANNOT separate the URIM and the THUMMIM from the breastplate.
Second, through the URIM and the THUMMIM, we can see that God’s nature of light and perfection is the very essence of His justice system.
And it is through this justice system or the Lord’s MISHPAT that God will save Israel, and all mankind THROUGH Israel.
We could actually, quite correctly” characterize the breastplate as being the “Breastplate of the Gospel”.
CONNECTING THIS TEACHING TO THE NEW TESTAMENT
“I am the Alpha and the Omega,
the First and the Last,
the Beginning and the End.”