Verses of Exodus 28
Exodus 28:29 Commentary - Charles Simeon's Horae Homileticae (Old and New Testaments)
Exo 28:29-30. And Aaron shall bear the names of the children of Israel in the breast-plate of judgment upon his heart, when he goeth in unto the holy place, for a memorial before the Lord continually. 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 before the Lord continually.
LITTLE do men in general imagine what treasures of knowledge are contained in the Old Testament. There is not any thing revealed concerning Christ in the New Testament, which was not prefigured in the Mosaic ritual. As every thing relating to his life and death may be clearly seen in the prophets, so every thing relating to his office and character may be learned from the ceremonial law. Even the ornaments of the high-priest were intended to shadow forth some of the most important offices which our blessed Lord sustains. That particular ornament which we propose to notice at present, is the breastplate of judgment: respecting which we shall point out,
Its primary use—
It will be proper, before we speak of its use, to shew what the breast-plate was—
[The priest wore an ephod, (a kind of short coat without sleeves,) made of fine linen, richly embroidered. The breastplate was a piece of fine linen, which, when doubled, was a span square. Upon that were placed twelve precious stones, each of them having the name of one of the tribes (according to their seniority) engraven upon it. This was worn upon the breast, over the ephod: and the high-priest was to wear it whenever he went into the presence of God: and it was called “the breast-plate of judgment,” because God, by means of it, communicated his mind and judgment to him respecting the children of Israel.
Within this breast-plate were placed the Urim and the Thummim. What these were, we are not informed. Many have thought, that they were not distinct from the stones: and that the terms Urim and Thummim merely designated the use to which those stones were applied. But the language of the text, especially when confirmed by Levit. 8:8, leaves no doubt, but that the Urim and Thummim were distinct from the breastplate, and were “put into” it after it was made. It is no objection to say, that the one is sometimes mentioned without the other, or, that we know not who made the Urim and Thummim, or what they were. It is sufficient for us to know, that they were added to the breast-plate, and that they were appointed for a very important purpose.]
The particular use of the breast-plate shall now be distinctly declared—
[The breast-plate thus formed, was to be worn by the high-priest, whenever he performed the duties of his office. It was suspended from his shoulders by two golden chains, fixed to two onyx-stones; on which, as well as on the twelve stones, were engraven all the names of the twelve tribes of Israel, six on each stone; and both the one and the other were “for a memorial before the Lord continually [Note: 2.].” We must understand this as spoken after the manner of men. We are not to suppose that God needs to be reminded of his people; but the sight of their names, whenever the high-priest came into his presence, was (so to speak) to remind him, that he had a people who were to be the objects of his peculiar care.
The Urim and Thummim were for a different purpose. They were, in some way or other, to communicate answers to the high-priest, whenever he consulted God upon any matter relating to the civil or religious concerns of the nation. To inquire how the answers were given, whether by a secret suggestion to the mind of the high-priest, or by an audible voice, or in any other way, is vain: we should be contented to be ignorant about those things whereon God has not seen fit to inform us. That the Urim and the Thummim were consulted, and not only by the high-priest, but by others without him; and that specific answers were obtained from God; is certain. Joshua [Note: Num 27:21.], and those who succeeded him in the government of Israel [Note: Jdg 1:1.], sought instruction from God through the medium of these. The eleven tribes had the mind of God repeatedly made known to them in the same way, when they desired to be informed, whether they were to wage war against the offending tribe of Benjamin [Note: Jdg 20:18; Jdg 20:23; Jdg 20:27-28.]. David in various straits took counsel of God in this way, and had such information conveyed to him as was impossible for any but the omniscient God to impart [Note: 1Sa 23:9-12; 1Sa 30:7; 1 Samuel 8.]. Saul asked counsel in the same way; but could not obtain an answer, because he had provoked God to cast him off [Note: 1Sa 28:6.]. At the time of the Babylonish captivity the Urim and the Thummim were lost, and were never afterwards recovered [Note: Ezr 2:63; Neh 7:65.] ; till Christ, whom they typified, came to instruct us in all things that can at all conduce to our real welfare.
The very names, Urim and Thummim, serve in a great measure to designate their particular use. Their import is, Lights and Perfections: and they were for the express purpose of conveying light to those who consulted them, even such light as would perfectly and infallibly direct their way.
Thus, as the breast-plate of judgment consisted of two different parts, so it was intended for two different uses; the stones in it were for a memorial before God; and the Urim and Thummim that were in it, were for the obtaining of instruction from God.]
But we shall have a very inadequate notion of the breast-plate, unless we understand,
Its typical intent—
Few are so ignorant as to need to be informed, that Christ is our great High-Priest. Now the breast-plate, of which we have been speaking, was designed to represent,
What Christ is doing for us—
[Christ, in the execution of his priestly office, was to “enter into the holy place,” there “to appear in the presence of God for us.” Accordingly, after his resurrection, he ascended to heaven, that he might there complete the work he had begun on earth. On his heart are engraven the names of all his people: on his shoulders he also bears them all: not one of them is forgotten by him: he presents them all before his Father, and is “their memorial before God continually.” God cannot even look upon his Son without being reminded, that there is in this lower world a people who need his incessant care. He sees at one view all their states, and all their circumstances. He sees how dear they are to his Son, who bears them ever on his heart; who sympathizes with them in their afflictions, and desires to have them extricated from all their difficulties. Were he disposed to be unmindful of them, he could not cast them out of his thoughts, or be deaf to the intercessions of our great High-Priest.
Here then is the security of all the children of Israel: “they have a great High-Priest, who is passed into the heavens, Jesus, the Son of God,” who has undertaken their cause, and is their Advocate with the Father, and “who is therefore able to save them to the uttermost, because he ever liveth to make intercession for them.”]
What Christ will do in us—
[In Christ “are hid all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge.” There is no case wherein we may not consult him; nor any, wherein he will not vouchsafe to direct our steps. How he will answer us, we will not presume to say: he has ten thousand ways of making known his will, and of over-ruling our purposes, without at all infringing the liberty of our will, or altering the general dispensations of his providence. It is sufficient for us to know, that “the meek he will guide in judgment, the meek he will teach his way;” and that “whatsoever we ask of him he will do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son.” From the consideration of his being our great and compassionate High-Priest, we are encouraged to come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help us in the time of need [Note: Heb 4:14-16.] ; and we are sure, that, if we come unto God through him, “we may ask what we will, and it shall be done unto us.” We need not say, This is so great a matter, that it would be presumptuous in me to ask it; nor, This is so small, that it would be unworthy of his attention: for, whether it be great or small, he would spread it before his heavenly Father, and obtain for us an answer of peace: his light should dispel our darkness, and his perfections dissipate our fears: the weakest should not be left to faint [Note: Isa 40:29-31.], nor the most ignorant to err [Note: Isa 35:8.].]
In this subject we may find abundant matter,
[When we come into difficult circumstances, we are too apt to imagine, like the Church of old, that “God hath forsaken and forgotten us.” But if God reproved them by declaring, that “a nursing mother could sooner forget her sucking child than he could forget them, since they were engraven on the palms of his hands [Note: Isa 49:14-16.],” how much more are we reproved by this typical representation of Christ, on whose shoulders we are supported, and on whose heart we are engraved! O let such unbelieving fears be put away! Let us “know in whom we have believed, that He is able to keep that which we have committed to him.” Let us remember, that, whilst he retains his priestly office, and his Father retains his regard for him, “he will not suffer one of his little ones to perish.”]
[Our trials may be numerous, and our difficulties urgent: but our High-Priest is ever at hand, to inquire of God for us. Nor does he need to be informed by us, what to ask; for he “knoweth what is in man,” and sees at the same time all the devices of our enemy. If only we lift up our hearts to him, his effectual aid shall be instantly obtained; for he is with us, to know our desires; and with God, to interest him in our favour. Let us then be encouraged to cast our care on him: and let us make him, what God has intended he should be to us, “our wisdom, and righteousness, our sanctification, and redemption [Note: 1Co 1:30.].”]
Verses of Exodus 28
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Charles Simeon's Horae Homileticae (Old and New Testaments)
Charles Simeon (1759 - 1836) was an English evangelical Anglican cleric.
Horae Homileticae reflects the rich source of Biblical understanding of Simeon, a towering figure in the history of evangelical theology.