Thursday, July 28, 2011

The Illumination of the Urim and the Thummim

There was only one word to describe the New Testament temple priesthood: dead. Jesus would call them “wicked and adulterous” (Matthew 16:4) in their face. He would even deride them in their fraud when He taught the disciples to “be careful” and “be on…guard against the yeast of the Pharisees and the Sadducees” (verse 6). Jesus, in truth, had a good time slapping them with their own stupidity with such phrases as “you are in error because you do not know the Scriptures” (22:29) and “have you not read what God said to you” (verse 31). In His time, the high priesthood was shared and swapped  between to known men of a single family named Annas (Luke 3:2) and Caiaphas (John 18:13 and 24). Their priesthood was no spiritual force but one political party made fat in Roman cronyism.

National Geographic Society/Corbis
And where were the Urim and the Thummim in all these? In 586 B.C. the Babylonians headed by Nebuchadnezzar trampled over the kingdom of Judah and exiled its people into captivity; and everything they found of treasure, “all articles from the temple of God both large and small” (2 Chronicles 36:18), which meant articles as large as the Ark of the Covenant and those as small as the Urim and the Thummim, were ransacked and carried away by the invaders before or as they tore down the Temple. The Babylonian Captivity ended a great regiment of Temple worship. In Babylonia, Jehovic worshippers had to move on and do away with the Urim and the Thummim, the Ark, the Temple and the Promised Land it stood on. It was in fulfillment of a prophecy made by Jeremiah stating that “’the ark of the covenant of the Lord’…will never enter their minds or be remembered; it will not be missed, nor will another one be made” (Jeremiah 3:16).

Burstein Collection/CORBIS
More than fifty years past and the Jews had given their religion a new look with synagogues, to replace the Temple, and “lengthy prayers” (Luke 20:47) for the ritual sacrifices. The prescribed Mosaic furniture, which became symbols of permanence, became nothing but relics so that when the Jews returning to Jerusalem decided to re-erect the Temple and reestablish its worship, they had to make considerable adjustments to compensate with the missing aspects that had long been lost since the Babylonian Capitivity. The passages of Ezra 2:63 and Nehemiah 7:65 had to deal with the missing Urim and Thummim that the governor, Nehemiah, ordered the descendants of the original priesthood “not to eat any of the most sacred food until there was a priest ministering with the Urim and the Thummim.” As we have already learned, it was through the use of the sacred lots that the priestly duties were delegated.
Yet while we never hear of the Ark of the Covenant appearing in the New Testament, the function of the Urim and the Thummim makes a comeback in Luke 1:9 when it sets up a priest named Zechariah, “who belonged to the priestly division of Abijah” (verse 5) to “go into the temple of the Lord and burn incense” (verse 9). This was a very important moment as Zechariah came before an angel of the Lord standing at the right side of the altar personally informing him of the birth of John the Baptist.
At this point we can suspect two scenarios, whether the original Urim and the Thummim were rediscovered after some time around the time the Temple was rebuilt or they were recreated for the sake of their role of bringing the enlightenment of God’s will and in matters of ritual. Yet as far as John the Baptist and Jesus Christ were concerned, the scenarios did not matter. The Temple Nehemiah rebuilt was again to be, in one way or another, phased out, and the Urim and the Thummim were to lose the glow to the role of the Holy Spirit.

Alfredo Dagli Orti/The Art Archive/Corbis
In one way or the other, the Temple Nehemiah rebuilt was again to be phased out. The moment Jesus gave up His Spirit on the cross, the thick beautiful holy Temple veil that shielded the Ark of the Covenant in its chamber was “torn in two from top to bottom” (Matthew 27:51). The significance of this phenomenon revealed the end of the human high priesthood. The Book of Hebrews’ “great high priest” (4:14), Jesus Christ, claimed all functions and fulfillment of every Temple trapping and furniture, from the least to the greatest. Before His death, He pictured the death of His physical body with the destruction of the Temple. Later on, the Apostle Paul would use the analogy of the Temple for the physical body of every believer (1 Corinthians 3:16). But on the other hand, there is a specific prophecy Jesus made that referred to the actual destruction of the Temple of Jerusalem. In Matthew 24 as He and His disciples were storming out of the Temple, He said, “I tell you the truth, not one stone here will be left on another; every one will be thrown down” (Matthew 24:2). In 70 A.D. the Romans did destroy the Temple along with the massacre of 600,000 defenseless Jewish civilians.

Elliot Elliot/Johner Images/Corbis
The Hanukkah menorah is a tradition straight out of the Maccabean  period 167 to 63 B.C., a turbulent period of Jewish history when Greek oppression reached blasphemous extent that King Antiochus IV erected an altar of Zeus in the Temple of God where pigs were ordered sacrificed.

Almost three decades after Ezra successfully led home the second wave of Jewish repatriates from the Persian Empire, the voice of God was never heard, not through His prophets; and His will could never be divined, not even by the Urim and the Thummim. For four hundred years, the entire nation of Israel lived each day like the final moments of Saul: seeking and inquiring of the Lord in vain, answering them not by dreams or Urim or prophets. Because of this the trappings of the Temple lost their appeal to many; and though the furnishings continued to maintain the respect of all Israel, they failed to keep the people’s confidence in the matters of God’s will. It was in this setting that spurred the popularity of the Pharisaic sect and for many to abandon the Temple culture. But there was another sect the rise of which had silently revealed in part to the priest Zechariah; and in this sect would rest the power of the sacred emblems to again unveil the will of God.

The word urim means “lights,” significant for the illumination that the sacred emblems brought. Urim is also the plural of ur, or flame. On Pentecost the Holy Spirit appeared in the form of “tongues of fire that separated and came to rest on each of” the disciples and the believers who were assembled in prayer (Acts 2:3).

Jesus had explicitly instructed His disciples “not [to] leave Jerusalem, but wait for the gift…promised” (Acts 1:4), by which He meant the baptism of the Holy Spirit (verse 5). Before they ever did anything for God—“preach the good news” (Mark 16:15), “make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything” Jesus had commanded them (Matthew 28:19)—the disciples had to be first empowered by the Holy Spirit. There was, however, one thing they carried out before the awaited event. It was to fulfill the prophecy in Psalm 109:8 about filling the place of leadership vacated by the fallen Judas Iscariot. Because this affair preceded the arrival of God’s promised gift, the eleven apostles had to resort to the Old Testament means they were familiar with: the drawing of lots. These were clearly not the Urim and the Thummim but headed with a prayer and in their divine tradition, the lots, perhaps for the last time, spoke for God:

“Then they prayed, ‘Lord you know everyone’s heart. Show us which of the two you have chosen to take over this apostolic ministry, which Judas left to go where he belongs.’ Then they drew lots, and the lot fell to Matthias; so he was added to the eleven apostles” (Acts 1:24 to 26).

The Urim and the Thummim provided counsel and illumination to matters of the Scripture not easily estimated. This was the role described by Jesus when He spoke to His disciples about the Holy Spirit:

“But the Counselor, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you” (John 15:26).

The Spirit behind the emblems took the place of the emblems as they faded from the Scriptures after their memory was used to divine the next apostle after Judas. From then on the Spirit went with the believers wherever they were. This was the confidence Jesus conveyed to His disciples when He advised them “not [to] worry about what to say or how to say it,” (Matthew 10:19) for “at that time you will be given what to say, for it will not be you speaking, but the Spirit of your Father speaking through you” (verse 20). When in the Old Testament, the wisdom of the lots passed through the hands of the high priest, all the New Testament believer has to do is to “ask” (Matthew 7:7). By the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, James the brother of Jesus exhorted the believers, “If any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to him” (James 1:5). The wisdom that God provided no longer needed to be coursed through a pair of tumbling stones.

Brooklyn Museum/Corbis

In the Old Testament the illumination brought by the Urim and the Thummim served as the counsel that God promised to lavish on all His children. The sacred stones were meant to reinforce His Law, never to violate it. It was meant to complete whatever the Law may have missed out in details, as far as the human intellect was concerned. Thummim means “perfections,” a guarantee of the complete truth that united both God and man (John 4:23 and 24). Again, with truth, we cannot help but be pointed to the Holy Spirit, whom Jesus called the Spirit of truth (John 14:16, 16:13). Yet in every detail, Jesus, in His life and words, was a vast free-flowing river of truth whose refreshing waters were everyday flocked by hundreds of thirsty shepherdless sheep seeking their way home. Jesus Himself introduced Himself as “the way, the truth and the life” (John 14:6).

Francis G. Mayer/Corbis

In His memorable mountainside teaching, He said, “Do no think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them” (Matthew 5:17). Jesus, like the Urim and the Thummim, did not introduce a new idea but to complete the demands of the Law. He was God’s perfect sacrifice (Exodus 12:5) who came to complete the Law. The very Person who came take the place of the sacred lots was the will behind the lots: God Himself by His Holy Spirit.


  1. Oh, great job. You have a few grammar issues with "to" and "two" and "too" and deserves a check besides - don't want it to detract.
    You actually have a very good piece of the puzzle - very well developed. It doesn't end there - it doesn't begin there. I'm comparing sources - one of them is Katz Apostolic Foundations - and the high priesthood is either reformed and reconciled or its superceded by simple relationship and Lamb of God doctrine - you have the Holy Spirit - but that's sort of a part of the democratization of "ultimate magic" - and Katz is making the point that basically the only truth is still today coming from very Christ-like figures - the true apostles who have been totally torn down - destroyed. Iesous (Jesus) is essentially that temple system restored. Moses is the destruction (more figuratively) of the Egyptian system - certainly he was personally destroyed as a prince of Egypt. And then there is the evolving of the Christ-doctrine through the Latter Days prophecy - which I think we are in the after-glow of - waiting on Armageddon and a couple of things left open (1912-2012 every single prophecy).

    You have some unique bits of information that I find satisfying over and above more direct sources - in particular URIM = lights Ur = flame (very good - also the tongues of flame of the H.S.) and THUMMIM = perfecting / perfection - hits my instinct button about dead on. I study language stems in etymology and source-meanings - long story. Part of this, actually. Kabbala is one of the merged and superseded phases of this same evolution - in the parallel lineage of philosophical magic.

    I'm Ion-Christopher

  2. Yes, for the record on URIM and THUMMIM given the above, I will add that this is probably* the same name-meaning as the PRIMORDIAL PHENOMENON of Heisenberg's speed vs location, which I found is also a dead-on match for David Allen's HUGELY helpful philosophy of GTD (Getting Things Done) - namely (there) the PERSPECTIVE VS CONTROL that he charts and teaches with. Very helpful, that. Anyway, you can see the relationship - it appears to be a unitary one. The two, in both of the other cases, are connected only by a vector. E.g. you set out to do something and have a list - an agenda and so forth. You pause and think and update stuff as you go - but you don't have to think much during the day - you do that first thing upon waking. This is all the same story - the prophet's / high priest's story of illumination.... You see where I am going with this for that chapter.

    *(given my instinct and the fact of my development of First Principles of Quantum Magic - which is where this is going - and I apologize for the poor journalism for sure here)

    1. Hmm - I would be derelict for sure if I left out the conclusion of this - which is how I think the URIM and THUMMIN would actually work, given this. I admit that I have dowsed and have given it up as not being of the HIGH GOD (long story again), who works and simply renders such divination moot in my own experience for sure. (And will in fact specifically confound non-apostolic - "unsent" - prophecy.) So without judging other than the evolution discussed, I would be able to predict from the primordial dimensional placing of the thing - which, I neglected also to say is in fact the same as "CAUSE AND EFFECT" most generally - as well as the pivotal point of time, worm-holes (so called), and all kinds of manifestations in total ignorance of linear logic (teleologic rules linear logic.) So - to get to the point - the thing that is so different may seem minor but not really - you read each chip separately. I won't go into details about how it might be read or executed - just that the basic divination would consist of yes-yes yes-no no-yes and no-no for each of cause and effect. Being this close to the High God (one step from the Alpha Gateway of the Alpha-Omega), the answers might indeed, given a high priest, be that authoritative. So that by this one might dissect a question into greater and lesser analysis of what's on God's mind. . . .

      Much better than remaining totally clueless - and I will think about this some more and probably reserve further comment.