Exodus 28:29 (HCSB)
29 “Whenever he enters the sanctuary, Aaron is to carry the names of Israel’s sons over his heart on the breastpiece for decisions, as a continual reminder before the Lord.
This pericope describes the construction of the breastpiece of the high priest’s garments. The breastpiece is made from the same materials as the ephod, and fastened to the ephod via gold cords, keeping it above the waist, placed, apparently, over the heart. The breastpiece was nine inches on each side, decorated with four rows of three stones each, each stone engraved with a name of one of the tribes, and apparently formed a pocket since the Urim and Thummim were to be placed within it.
This continues the theme of the Israelites following God’s commands in creating this items that symbolize their connection, worship, and following of God. There is not much given to us here to infer a whole lot, other than the following:
- Aaron, the high priest, is clearly the representative before God for Israel, hence the engraved stones. He is apparently the conduit for God’s decisions, via the Urim and Thummim.
- The placement of the breastpiece over the heart seems to be significant to me. Perhaps it suggests that Aaron does not come before God for selfish reasons, but for the good of God’s people. Perhaps it is a reminder that God cares for all His people. Perhaps it is a reminder for Aaron that the Israelites are God’s elect. It is most certainly a reminder though (Exodus 28:30)!
- The brevity and matter-of-factness of their mention seems to suggest the Israelites were familiar with the Urim and Thummim. But I also think there is purposefully very little concerning the Urim and Thummim here. Our focus should not be on ways to extract what we want from God, which a focus on these objects might induce, but to focus on God’s guidance and providence in our lives, through whatever means He might use.
Lord, thank You for guiding us, for speaking into our lives, and for not just caring for us individually, but wholly as Your church. I pray that I don’t come before You for selfish reasons, only to petition You on my behalf, but on behalf of my brothers and sisters. Help us to always remember Your entire kingdom. Amen.