The central item of the garments of the priest was the breastplate, which was like a heavenly, divine, and spiritual typewriter, since it was through it that God spoke to His people; today we need to experience the spiritual reality of the breastplate in the church life and we even need to be the breastplate.
The breastplate is actually a type not only of the Lord’s speaking to His people with His leading, but also of the church as the building of God.
The breastplate was composed of twelve precious stones inscribed with the names of the tribes of Israel, which were set in gold; the church is the building up of the redeemed, regenerated, and transformed people of God in the divine nature of God for God to have a dwelling place and an oracle on earth.
The main purpose of the breastplate of judgement was for God’s leading; if we want to know God’s leading today we need to not only seek Him personally and find His purpose, but also come to the church, the reality of the breastplate.
It is in the church that God’s purpose is made clear to us, the desire of His heart is manifest, and here He gives us the solution to our problems. We as the church are being built up together in God’s divine nature (the reality of the gold), and we are on God’s heart (as the breastplate was on the heart of the high priest) and in His loving hands (the breastplate was the size of a span of a hand).
Besides the breastplate of judgement there was the Urim (meaning illuminators) and the Thummim (meaning the completers); after the Urim and the Thummim were put into the breastplate, it became not only a memorial but also a breastplate of judgement.
Through such a means, in a mysterious yet wonderful way, God could speak to His people to make known His judgements and His ways.
The breastplate with the Urim and the Thummim was used in such occasions as Joshua enquiring concerning who sinned among God’s people (Josh. 7:16-21), David enquiring of the Lord (1 Sam. 23:6-12), Saul not receiving the Lord’s speaking (1 Sam. 28:6), etc.
Whenever God’s people wanted to find out the Lord’s will concerning them, they could receive His up-to-date message by means of the breastplate with the Urim and the Thummim.
Requirements we must Fulfil for us as the Church to be the Breastplate of Judgment
On the one hand, by our very constitution and building up as the precious stones in the church, we are the reality of the breastplate of judgment today; on the other hand, in order for the church to be the breastplate of judgement, we must fulfil certain requirements.
First, we need to be transformed and transparent, and then Christ as the letters of the spiritual alphabet must be inscribed into us clearly and definitely. This means that we must cooperate with the Lord to experience Christ and be transformed from clay (natural persons) into precious stones for God’s building.
Furthermore, we need to be dealt with by the Lord so that we may no longer be opaque but be transparent so that He may shine in us and through us. We need to have the adequate experience of Christ so that we may be transformed and made transparent.
We need to have Christ inscribed into our being as the many letters of the heavenly alphabet. We may think we have Christ inscribed in us, but when we speak to others concerning what He is to us, we will realize how short we are of Him.
As we learn to shepherd the saints, we realize our need of Christ; we may be able to speak concerning the main points in the Bible, but we are short when it comes to the experience of Christ for ministering Him.
We all have to admit that we don’t have that much experience of Christ, we lack in Christ being inscribed into our being, and therefore it is not easy for the Lord to speak through us.
Because there is such a shortage of transformation, transparency, inscribing, and enlightening, we need to pray that we may become transparent, have more of Christ inscribed into us, and experience more enlightening. Then we shall realize that, even if we are full of Christ, we still have a shortage, for something of Christ’s riches is still lacking. This is what is indicated by the marvellous picture of the breastplate with the Urim and the Thummim. Witness Lee, Life-Study of Exodus
We need more of Christ. Even Apostle Paul, who experienced the Lord to a great extent, admitted that he desires to gain more of Christ and be found in Him. Paul was so much filled with Christ that he became a living letter of Christ wherever he went, but he still needed the Lord as his Thummim, his completer.
We need to be filled with Christ and experience Him to the uttermost, and we need to take Him as our Completer, the Perfecter of our faith; we are so short of Christ, and we need Him very much.
When we have Christ inscribed into us, we realize that we are still short of Christ, and we shall seek Him to be our completion. Just as God could not speak through the breastplate unless the stones had been inscribed with letters, so God cannot speak through us, His redeemed people, unless we have been inscribed with Christ (Heb. 8:10).
Because we are so short of transformation, being transparent, being inscribed with Christ, and being enlightened, we need to pray that we may become more transparent, be transformed, have more Christ inscribed into us, and experience more enlightening (see Rev. 22:1; 21:11; Psa. 119:130; Isa. 2:5; Eph. 5:8-9; Psa. 89:15; 1 John 1:7).
Our Christ is inexhaustible: He is the Alpha and the Omega, He is all the letters in-between, and He is the spiritual alphabet for both inscription and completion; although we may enjoy His inscription, there is still something more of Him that we need for completion (see Heb 6:1; Phil. 3:10, 13-14). Such an experience will cause us to be the breastplate of judgment on earth today.
Lord Jesus, we admit that we are so short of transformation, transparency, inscribing and enlightening. We pray that we may become more transparent for You to be seen through us. Inscribe us with Yourself more as the letters of the heavenly alphabet so that we may be living letters of Christ. Transform us into Your image to make us precious stones. Shine in us and through us, Lord, and keep us enjoying You and experiencing You. Lord Jesus, we need You! Fill us with Yourself and give us more of Your riches to us for the building up of the church!
Receiving the Lord’s Judgment, Knowing His Way and Will, and Going on with the Lord
The breastplate of judgment is the building up of the Body life; when we all experience being transformed, being made transparent, being inscribed with Christ, and being built up together under the Lord’s shining light, we live the church life in the reality of the Body of Christ.
The breastplate of judgment is the means for us to know God’s will concerning us, His people. The Lord’s leading through the breastplate always involves a judgment; He uses the negative situations as the background on which He can speak to us and show us His will, His way, and His judgment.
If He would speak to us only in positive situations, there would be no need for judgment; but if we read the Bible and look at our own situation, we have to admit that the Lord speaks to us in a specific, direct, and instant way in negative situations.
His instant speaking contains His word of judgment, and at the same time there’s the supply of the riches of Christ.
We see this in the Apostle Paul’s reading of the negative situation in Corinth and then writing 1 Corinthians as a book of judgment, together with the rich supply of the all-inclusive Christ. God’s way of speaking is not only through judgment but also through supplying us with Christ.
God’s speaking is according to the negative situation, yet with the riches of Christ as the supply for us, His people.
We need to pray that every local church would become a breastplate according to the picture in Exodus 28.
When we are in the church life as the reality of the breastplate, we will receive the Lord’s judgment of what we have to do or we must not do, and we will know the Lord’s way; this will cause us to go on with the Lord and advance in the church life.
When we all experience the Lord’s transforming work, we are being made transparent, when we have the Lord’s light shining among us, and we have Christ inscribed into our being, the church life becomes the reality of the breastplate of judgment, and the Lord can speak an up-to-date message, His leading, in a specific way to match the need.
We will then receive the Lord’s judgment, we will know His will and way, and we will go on with the Lord.
Furthermore, when someone enters among us and we all speak one with the Lord, the secrets of his heart are made manifest, he is convicted by all, and he will realize that God is among us, speaking through us all as the reality of the breastplate of judgment.
Lord Jesus, give us the experiences we need for the building up of the Body life to be the reality of the breastplate. We want to have Your speaking, Your leading, and Your judgment, so that we know what we have to do and what we must not do. Lord, we want to know Your way and Your will, and we want to go on with You according to the judgment given by the Lord through His speaking. Lord, may every local church be the breastplate according to the picture in Exodus 28 for Your expression and manifestation!
References and Hymns on this Topic
- Inspiration: the Word of God, my enjoyment in the ministry, the message by brother Mark R. for this week, and Life-study of Exodus, msg. 128, as quoted in the Holy Word for Morning Revival on, Crystallization-Study of Exodus (part 4, 2016 Summer Training), msg. 9 (week 45 in the HWMR), The Breastplate — the Central and Ultimate Point of the Priesthood.
Hymns on this topic:
# Jesus, O living Word of God, / Wash me and cleanse me with Your blood / So You can speak to me. / Just let me hear Your words of grace, / Just let me see Your radiant face, / Beholding constantly. (Song on having God’s speaking)
# Him expressing from within, / Making Him to others seen, / I transparent have to be / That He may be shown thru me. / Transformation is my need, / To be broken more indeed, / That the clay may change in form, / To the treasure to conform. (Hymns #548)
# Lord, teach us to discern the spirit / That we may be transformed in soul, / Till we’re conformed to Thine own image, / Till we’re matured and reach the goal. / Lord, teach us to discern the spirit, / To us Thy living Word so give / That soul from spirit be divided / And in the holiest place we’ll live. (Hymns #746)