The breastplate that formed so prominent and beautiful an object in the dress of the High Priest of Israel, was designated the breastplate of judgment because, as this verse affirms, God directed that the Urim and Thummim—” lights and perfections “—should be placed in it. The breastplate was fastened to the blue robe of the ephod; a bag was at the back of the breastplate, and in this bag what is designated Urim and Thummim were placed. The marginal reading has it “lights and perfections.” By Urim and Thummim the High Priest of Israel consulted the Lord in seasons of embarrassment and perplexity; and by Urim and Thummim the mind and the will of the Lord were made known again and yet again to those who thus enquired.
Many speculations have been made as to what Urim and Thummim were. Moses is nowhere directed to make these objects, but is ordered to put them in the bag. Some have said they were two beautiful gems. This would seem to be the more likely, engraven with the sacred names of the covenant God of Israel; but what God has not been pleased to reveal, let us not speculate upon. This is certain, that they set forth a hearing and answering God in the midst of His people.
Urim and Thummim set forth that the perfection of judgment is with the Lord Jesus Christ as God’s holy One, so that the essence of the meaning is expressed in the verse,
“In Him a holiness complete,
Light and perfection shine,
And wisdom, grace and glory meet—
A Saviour all Divine.”
Just as Aaron and his successors received special communications and answers from God through Urim and Thummim, so all judgment and counsel have been committed to God’s own dear Son, our great High Priest, the Lord Jesus Christ.
You will notice that the breastplate was never to be separated from the ephod; the ephod, reaching down to the feet of the High Priest, was to have perpetually fastened on it the breastplate, and God has said that “the breastplate be not loosed from the ephod,” the ephod designating the High Priestly office of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. From that High Priestly office, the names, the position and the circumstances of His people will never, never be loosed. He appears within the veil on behalf of His people, bearing upon His heart the names of those for whom He died. What we need is the fulfilment of that prayer of the bride in the Song of Solomon, “Set me as a seal upon Thy heart, as a seal upon Thine arm,” in other words, “Bear testimony to my own soul that my name is inscribed upon Thy heart of love, is inscribed upon Thine arm of omnipotent and loving power.” Whilst on the one hand the twelve stones in the breastplate contained the names of the Israelites, so the onyx stones on the shoulders contained the same names arranged in a different order, significant of this, that all the Lord’s people are equally interested in His everlasting love, and in the exercise of His mighty, gracious, glorious power. One is not before another, one is not loved more than another; our great High Priest bears upon His blessed shoulders the names of all for whom He died; He bears upon His heart of love all signified by the stones in the breastplate. All the stones were different; each stone as the light from the candlestick and shekinah cloud shone upon it displaying its own lustre, but all reflecting the glory of Jehovah, the covenant-keeping God of Israel. Now the names of the Lord’s people are inscribed upon His heart. Here in this time state the breastplate, that is the Church of God in its heavenly lustre, is covered by the garment of badger skins, but when Christ shall come to be glorified in His saints, the whole Church of God will shine forth in the heavenly glory, and be presented faultless before the presence of that glory with exceeding joy.
Here then is the breastplate and the names indelibly engraved upon these precious stones shining out in beauty and glory before Jehovah, and so our Lord
“Bears the names of all His saints
Deep on His heart engraved,
Attentive to the state and wants
Of all His love has saved.
In Him my weary soul has rest,
Though I am weak and vile;
I read my name upon His breast,
And see the Father smile.”
And this always comes to pass when the Lord shows you that He has set you as a seal upon His heart and arm.
Let us speak first of the OFFICE of our High Priest within the veil as demonstrated by the breastplate with the Urim and Thummim enshrined therein; secondly, of THOSE FOR WHOM HE APPEARS—those whose names He wears; and lastly, the great and blessed RESULTS that flow therefrom.
The Lord in His love and mercy took infinite pains to describe minutely the various parts of the Tabernacle, and the various parts of the dress of the High Priest. God was pleased to take these infinite pains because He designed that the person of Aaron, and the dress of Aaron, and the breastplate that Aaron wore, should be indicative officially of His own blessed Person and glorious work and everlasting love. When Aaron was garbed in that raiment of glory and beauty, with the breastplate upon his bosom, what a wonderful sight was presented! But Aaron passed away, and his successors. The garments of glory and beauty in that respect are not now to be seen, but He who is God’s great Anti-type is the “same yesterday, and to-day, and for ever.” If the sight of Aaron, a poor sinful man called by God to be the High Priest of Israel, was thus glorious, what must the blessed Person, the glorious office, the everlasting love, of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ be! He is the great High Priest of His dear Church and people, and upon His heart God’s law is written by His life. By His life it has been blessedly fulfilled, and it is His delight to do the will of His God.
Now, with regard to our dear heavenly Aaron, it is declared that “we have not an High Priest which cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities; but was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin.” The typical Aaron’s body has returned to dust, but the Person of our heavenly Aaron, with His Aaronic and Melchisedec priesthood combined, is now within the veil.
What is the veil? It is that which conceals. It conceals heaven from earth; it conceals the spirits of the just made perfect from us who still are dwelling in these bodies of sin and death here. It conceals from our view that which our mortal eyes are not fitted to gaze upon. What is the veil? There is the veil of the aerial heavens, or the atmosphere by which this earth is surrounded; no unassisted human eye can gaze through that atmosphere to its utmost extent. Next there is the veil of the stellar or starry heavens, the place where the spheres which God has created perform their appointed circuits. And then there is what God’s Word designates as the “third heavens,” that place which is beyond this atmosphere, beyond the starry heavens, where the body of our blessed Lord Jesus is; where He guides and carries out His divine office as our High Priest above.
How far away is heaven? I suppose it must be a very vast way off, but distance is as nothing between the Lord and His dear people. Though the distance of heaven, as a place, may be expressed perhaps by millions and millions of miles, yet on the other hand, it is so near, it is just on the other side of the veil, and when I die, when you die, oh that it may be said of us, “Absent from the body, present with the Lord”!
Now into the upper regions, into the place which is called the “third heavens,” the body assumed by the Son of God has passed, and in the third heavens our great Redeemer dwells. If we could see Him to-day, we should see those very hands that were nailed to the cross; we should behold those very feet that trod the stormy sea of Galilee; we should see these loving eyes that looked with such love upon poor backsliding Peter that they melted him into repentance. Our great High Priest is not a phantom Christ, but God manifest in the flesh. He is a living, loving, breathing Man. The person of Aaron, viewed as God’s High Priest, is typical and significant of the Person of our most blessed Lord. As Aaron was habited from head to foot first with the garment of snowy whiteness, typical of the spotless humanity of our dear Lord, so upon those garments were placed the robes of glory and of beauty, typical of the covenant offices which the Lord Jesus Christ has been pleased to assume and carry out on behalf of poor lost and ruined sinners.
Was that breastplate heavy? I should imagine it was, but see the Divine provision that was made to keep it in its place. There were the twined chains of gold which held it to the onyx stones on the shoulders. There were the other fastenings attaching it to the ephod itself. The ephod and breastplate were never to be parted; the breastplate was never shifted. Are not those wreathen chains of gold which fastened the breastplate to the shoulder pieces of Aaron indicative of the everlasting love of our Triune God, fastening the heavenly breastplate to the shoulder pieces of our great Lord, and the breastplate on the heart of Jesus? The breastplate on the bosom of incarnate Love is fixed there by the wreathen work of the love of Father, Son and Holy Ghost.
Here, then, is our dear Lord in the heavens. We are not to think of Him as literally wearing a breastplate. That was an object lesson given to us, but what God represented by gems and by gold and fastenings, is gloriously real in the Person of the Christ of God above. Just as Aaron bore that breastplate upon his bosom in his earthly ministry in the tabernacle, so Christ Jesus the Lord, in the third heavens to-day, bears upon His heart of love your persons, your cases, your circumstances, your troubles, your difficulties, and all that affects you. But you may say, “How mighty that burden must be! My burdens and circumstances are such that at times they seem about to crush me, and if my Saviour in the third heavens bears not only that which is such a burden to me, but the burdens of all for whom He died, surely it must be a load indeed.” But He is God manifest in the flesh, and just as there was provision made that the breastplate should not be shifted from its place, so it is the love of Father, Son and Holy Ghost that has written your name upon the divine affections and upon the heart of incarnate love, upon the imperishable tablets of the memory of our Triune God, and so His love is attentive
To the state and wants
Of all His love has saved.
So our mercy is that our heavenly Aaron has to do with all our concerns, and just as Aaron waited before Jehovah, and returned to those on whose behalf he appeared, with Jehovah’s answers given by Urim and Thummim, so our blessed Lord appears in the glory. “There is one Mediator between God and man, the Man Christ Jesus,” There is not one thing, not the tiniest circumstance affecting your life and career or mine, that has not been committed into the hands of Him who bears that breastplate, and who wears that great and glorious kingly and priestly crown.
But you say, “You are unable to tell us what Urim and Thummim consisted of.” Yes, but they stand for the words, “light and perfection,” and I can tell you, without hesitation, what they mean in relation to the Lord Jesus Christ. “In Him”—in His heart—”In Him is the fulness of grace and truth—Urim and Thummim.” “The law was given by Moses, but grace and truth came by Jesus Christ.” Who here can say, “Of that fulness” of grace and truth “have we received, even grace upon the top of grace”? Urim and Thummim were two very precious stones, they say. They may have been, but in my Head all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge are found, and they are hid in Him for His dear people. He wears the blue robe of the ephod for all who were given to Him by His heavenly Father, and He will wear that robe of the ephod until the last elect vessel of mercy has been translated into the glory. In the meantime He is thinking of you, and is
“Attentive to the state and wants
Of all He came to save.”
Do you know what it is to enquire by Urim and Thummim? David enquired, and so have many, many others, but do you? In other words, do you know what it is to go to God by Christ, and to ask for fresh supplies of that grace and truth which are God’s heavenly treasures, and which are stored up in Him.
“Come, ye humble sinner train,
Souls for whom the Lamb was slain.”
Come, ye who want Jesus Christ, ye who feel your need of Him, ye who long for those treasures of wisdom and knowledge which are thus stored up in Him. God’s own dear Son came to die in fulfilment of His covenant engagements. He absolutely fulfilled the Law in spirit and in letter. He wrought an obedience or righteousness which “is unto all and upon all them that believe.” He came to redeem, and He has redeemed with an eternal redemption.
And what else did He come for? He came as God, to become personally acquainted with the feelings, the wants, the miseries, the necessities of the whole Israel of God. As Jehovah the Son, as God in Himself, His omniscient eye saw them all, His omniscient mind comprehended them all, but He came to have a personal experience because He loved us so. I cannot explain it; it is too wonderful and deep. God came here in the Person of His Son personally to acquaint Himself with the feelings, miseries, necessities and temptations of the whole Israel of God, for “He was tempted in all points like as we are, yet without sin.” And now He has gone! Yes, for a little while, but what a mercy it is we do not have to say of Him as of our friends, He has gone, passed away! He has not gone in that sense of the word, but He has gone from this planet as to His bodily presence. What has He taken with Him? The results of His precious blood, and He carries upon His heart most feelingly the experience which He, as the Man Christ Jesus, acquired here. This is the inner signification of the breastplate teaching; no tribe of Israel omitted; all occupy an equal place upon the heart and bosom of Aaron. This signifies that every member of the family of faith has his name inscribed upon that heart of love, and that the Lord Jesus Christ has the most intimate knowledge of all that transpires. He lived here; He came into personal contact with His patients. He was not like one who prescribes at a distance. He came here into personal contact with His patients. There was not a single ward in this hospital of sin and misery into which our blessed Lord did not come. With His own hand He felt the fevered pulse of His people, and gazed with His own eyes upon their sufferings and tears. He entered into the subtlest and tenderest sensibilities of our frames, and though He has now changed His outward estate, no longer is He the pilgrim Redeemer, but the exalted Head in glory, still He bears our judgment upon His heart.
Again, what is the breastplate of judgment? Oh, is He not well able to judge? What is His Name? “Wonderful, Counsellor, the Mighty God, the Everlasting Father, and the Prince of Peace.” Just as Aaron stood before the divine shekinah cloud and consulted God on behalf of His people by Urim and Thummim, so in an infinitely intimate indescribable relationship the Son stands to the Father, the Mediator stands to Jehovah, and represents and describes the cases of those who have been committed into His hand. As Man he knows all the feelings of a man. As God He possesses all divine prerogatives. As God and Man in one glorious Christ He is eminently suitable to every poor sinner here this morning—God and Man in one Christ. There in the Christ you have the blue robe of the ephod setting forth His divine power and glory as the great High Priest of His people. There is a poor Israelite telling Aaron of his difficulties and perplexities, and the High Priest is to consult God in relation thereto. What did the answer depend on? I do not suppose there was often much flow of language, there is not as a rule when the heart’s deepest feelings are stirred; there are groanings that cannot be uttered; but Aaron in his measure would understand, as a man, what this one who desired to approach God wished to convey. But he could only partially do so. What was the ground of the answer given? The tribe to which the man belonged was inscribed on Aaron’s breastplate, and Aaron went before the Lord with blood and incense. There was the reason for the answer. And so, poor sinner, repentance is a blessed thing, tears and prayers are blessed things, but the answer does not depend upon your tears, prayers or repentance; it all depends upon Christ, upon the everlasting love of God, upon the precious blood that flowed through Emmanuel’s veins, and which fills all heaven with fragrance. Bless God if He has taught you to pray, but our mercy is that these are just the “things that accompany salvation.” Christ is All and in all, and as long as Jesus lives He will receive and bless and give counsel and judgment to those who thus come before Him.
“Judgment”—the word refers to the varied cases of all the Lord’s people: soul distress, spiritual necessity, legal doubts, heart conflicts, gloomy fears, wintry circumstances, summer heats, all are known to Him. Your case with all its ins and outs is a part of what the Lord Jesus bears upon His heart. “Lord, set me in my own feelings and experience as a seal upon Thine heart; Lord, decide the doubtful case,” one and another is led to say this morning.
Aaron often misunderstood, but in his high priestly office the Lord dealt with that which he brought before Him on the ground of His covenant engagements. Eli looks at Hannah and says, “You have had more wine than is good for you, or you would not move your lips in this way.” Oh how we misunderstand, and wretchedly misapprehend, one another! But remember this, our heavenly Aaron’s judgment is always right. It is said of Him that the Father has made Him “of quick understanding in the fear of the Lord.” In a moan, by the twitter of the soul, He knows what you want, He knows what you mean. I have tried to look up in Bunyan what I have already told you. A Christian lady said to me the other day, “When the Gospel comes home with power to my heart, it makes my soul twitter, as Bunyan says.” I cannot find the passage; if any of you know where it is, perhaps you will tell me; it is not in the “Pilgrim’s Progress,” but in one of his other books. Our dear Lord knows where you are, and what you are, and that breastplate is never shifted from His heart of love. God said it should not be, in connection with the type, and so the Lord’s people are never shifted from the heart of our heavenly Aaron.
How comprehensive it all is! The entire management of all relating to the children of Israel was thus in the hands of God, and His will was made known to His people through Urim and Thummim. So our God orders and provides, and governs all worlds, and rather than one of His children should be destroyed, He reverses the whole order of nature itself. More dear to Him is the least and the feeblest of His people than the apple of our eye is to us.
Every stone had its socket; each was fitted into a socket of gold. Ephod, breastplate, onyx stones upon the shoulders, wreathes chains of gold, they all formed one complete portion of the garments. So all our interests are interwoven with our names, and all are interwoven with the everlasting love of God. What a saying that is, “If you do not look after your own interests, no one else will”! I know that in relation to business and to earthly things we need to seek that the Lord would give to us prudence, so that we may rightly judge and weigh and estimate things, but that is quite another matter from that miserable selfishness that puts No. I first. If you look after God’s business, He will look after you; and so we have, in relation to our subject to-day, that which declares that the Lord Jesus Christ is continually looking upon the interests of His dear people.
“But,” someone says, “I should like many things altered in my lot.” Who would not? I should. If I had an hour of freedom, I often feel I should like to turn things upside down and make very great alterations. O to have our wills brought into conformity with His, and to realise that He who died to save us lives to appear in heaven for us!
You will notice the tribes on the onyx stones were in the order of their birth; the names of the breastplate were in the order of their march, setting forth that which I have been attempting to convey. Just as Aaron represented every true Israelite, so our blessed Lord represents every sinner saved by grace; on His heart of love are the names of all the members of that Church redeemed by His precious blood. What are the names known by there? Not by any sectarian name: they are known as members of that Church which consists of the elect of God, those who have been redeemed by the precious blood of Christ. What is the pedigree of an Israelite? “Born not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God.” Who are the true circumcision? Those who worship God in the Spirit, have no confidence in the flesh, and rejoice in Christ Jesus.
“A guilty, weak, and helpless worm,
On Thy kind arms I fall:
Be Thou my strength and righteousness,
My Jesus and my All.”
I feel I cannot draw near and worship without the sweet power of God the Holy Spirit in my soul. Then you know what it is to worship God in spirit and in truth. And as to Christ, my great sorrow is, that I do not love Him as I would, or know Him as I desire; and I feel I am the worst sinner. But you rejoice in Christ Jesus, you are a true Israelite, and a son of Abraham, and the Lord bears your name on His heart of love.
There were transactions in the consultation of Jehovah with regard to the matters brought before Him through Urim and Thummim. The Israelite brought the case; Aaron stated the case; Aaron consulted God’s will in connection with it, and God was pleased to communicate His mind and will concerning that which was brought before Him. “If ye shall ask anything in My Name I will do it.” “But we often pray and do not get what we ask, although we ask in the Name of Jesus,” says someone. Is that so? To ask in the Name of the Lord Jesus Christ is to ask under the sweet compulsions of that Name. When I truly go to God in His Name I go with the desire that whatever my God may give, it will be that which I shall be grateful to receive, and God has never sent away one yet who has gone in that spirit.
The only begotten Son which is in the bosom of the Father He hath declared the Father’s love to His dear Church and people. Brethren, we are not orphans; we often feel alone. Our Father is our God. His dear Son is our ever-living High Priest, and His blessed Spirit is the abiding Guide and Comforter. The Lord bless His Word for His Name’s sake. Amen.
John E. Hazelton (1924) was a Strict and Particular Baptist preacher. He was the son of John Hazelton (1822-1888). He was appointed the Pastor of Streatley Hall, London. In the December 1924 Issue, the Gospel Magazine wrote of him:
“For a period of fifteen years he faithfully ministered the Word of life to the Lord's people who met in Streatley Hall, London, and these are a selection of the sermons he preached there, lovingly collected together, and printed in book form. By way of introduction there is also printed A Declaration of Faith by Mr. Hazelton. This was found amongst his papers. It has never before been published. It is full of valuable teaching of such subjects as "The Peril and Needs of Our Churches," "The Holy Scriptures," "The Everlasting Covenant," "The Church," and "The Doctrine of Grace.” Mr. Hazelton was an able preacher of the everlasting Gospel, and he loved to exalt Christ and to abase the sinner. These sermons are full of rich Gospel teaching. They tell of a full and an eternal salvation, arranged and planned in the great Covenant of grace before the foundations of the world were laid. They tell of the electing love of God the Father, the redeeming work of God the Son on behalf of His Church and people, and of the regenerating and sanctifying work of God the Holy Ghost. They tell of the blood and righteousness of the Divine Surety of the everlasting Covenant. They are marked by fulness of Gospel truth and by tender and loving words to seeking and penitent sinners. They display a considerable knowledge and much care in preparation. They are the words of a true man of God who in dependence on the aid of the Divine Spirit earnestly proclaimed the Gospel of Divine grace in the prayerful hope that God the Holy Ghost would use the message as the means of regenerating the sinful objects of His eternal mercy. Space will not allow us to quote from these pages, but we strongly advise our readers at once to get the book and make it point of reading one of the sermons every week. Mr. Hazelton was called home on May 8th last. His last sermons were preached on April 6th and 13th, and they form the concluding sermons of this volume. A beautiful portrait of the beloved author forms the frontispiece. By these sermons, and by his valuable Declaration of Faith, he being dead, yet speaketh.”