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always needs help from The LORD.

Exodus 28:15-30 (NIV)

“Fashion a breastpiece for making decisions—the work of skilled hands. Make it like the ephod: of gold, and of blue, purple and scarlet yarn, and of finely twisted linen. It is to be square—a span long and a span wide—and folded double. Then mount four rows of precious stones on it. The first row shall be carnelian, chrysolite and beryl; the second row shall be turquoise, lapis lazuli and emerald; the third row shall be jacinth, agate and amethyst; the fourth row shall be topaz, onyx and jasper. Mount them in gold filigree settings. There are to be twelve stones, one for each of the names of the sons of Israel, each engraved like a seal with the name of one of the twelve tribes. “For the breastpiece make braided chains of pure gold, like a rope. Make two gold rings for it and fasten them to two corners of the breastpiece. Fasten the two gold chains to the rings at the corners of the breastpiece, and the other ends of the chains to the two settings, attaching them to the shoulder pieces of the ephod at the front. Make two gold rings and attach them to the other two corners of the breastpiece on the inside edge next to the ephod. Make two more gold rings and attach them to the bottom of the shoulder pieces on the front of the ephod, close to the seam just above the waistband of the ephod. The rings of the breastpiece are to be tied to the rings of the ephod with blue cord, connecting it to the waistband, so that the breastpiece will not swing out from the ephod. Whenever Aaron enters the Holy Place, he will bear the names of the sons of Israel over his heart on the breastpiece of decision as a continuing memorial before the Lord. Also put the Urim and the Thummim 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.”

The NIV is clearer here; the more literal translations don’t mention the purpose of the breastpiece. They just call it the “breastpiece of judgment.” That isn’t wrong; it just doesn’t say what judgment.

The precious stones make the breastpiece ornate. Is its purpose to get God to suspend judgment, allowing the priest to enter the tabernacle? Could be, especially if you call it the breastpiece of judgment.

But that’s not it. The breastpiece is for making wise judgements. We’re not told how, but we know this was done. Other references describe using the Urim and the Thummim to discern the LORD’s will.

He is to stand before Eleazar the priest, who will obtain decisions for him by inquiring of the Urim before the LORD. – Numbers 27:21a (NIV)

The governor ordered them not to eat any of the most sacred food until there was a priest ministering with the Urim and Thummim. – Ezra 2:63 (NIV)

Always pray for those tasked with making wise judgments. Our leaders were placed there by God.

The authorities that exist have been established by God. – Romans 13:1b (NIV)

Discipline yourself to pray sincerely for the politicians you disagree with. Ask God to give them wisdom – not something snarky like, “a clue.” If this is awkward, practice until it comes naturally.

The weekly study guides, which include discussion questions, are available for download here:

Mike Slay

As a mathematician, inventor, and ruling elder in the Presbyterian Church in America, Mike Slay brings an analytical, conversational, and even whimsical approach to the daily study of God's Word.

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