The breastplate that the high priest had to wear on top of the ephod had twelve precious stones on which the names of the twelve tribes of Israel were engraved; this signifies that we as God’s redeemed and transformed people are being built together to become one entity.
The high priest wore the building of God on his shoulders (the two onyx stones) and on his heart (the breastplate).
The breastplate in particular is a very fine and detailed type of the church: the twelve precious stones set in gold typify the many believers in Christ who are being transformed and are being built up together in the divine nature to become God’s building and the place where He speaks, His oracle.
The main purpose of the breastplate of judgment was for God’s leading; it was called “the breastplate of judgement” because, when God spoke and gave words of leading to His people, there were many negative things that had to be judged.
Praise the Lord, today we as believers in Christ can enjoy and experience the spiritual reality of the breastplate in the church life, and we can have God’s speaking, we can be transformed, and we can be built up in the divine nature in God’s building! Amen!
If we know the church and are built up in the church, we know God’s leading; actually, God’s leading and the church are one. God reveals to us what we should do not merely in our time with Him but all the more brighter and clearer in the church; when we are in the church meetings, the Lord has a way to speak to us, lead us, and grant us a message concerning our life and going on with Him.
The church “bears the divine alphabet” by which God makes known His leading, and whenever we are puzzled, perplexed, and troubled concerning our situation, our family, and the things around us, we should simply come to meet with the saints and be built up together, and God’s leading will be present.
Hallelujah, the entire church as a built-up entity is borne upon Christ’s loving heart for a memorial, a pleasing remembrance, before God – He bears us in love and strength, and He cares for us by holding us in the palm of His hands. Praise the Lord!
Being Transformed to be Precious Stones Built Together in God’s Nature to be the Church
On the breastplate there were twelve stones set in gold (Exo. 28:17-20); these symbolize the saints as transformed precious stones who are being built together in the divine nature of Christ to become one entity, the church as the Body of Christ (see 1 Cor. 3:10-12; Eph. 1:22-23).
The twelve stones were set into a setting of gold; we are built up not in our humanity but in the divine nature. We need to be transformed from clay into precious stones so that we may be built up together with the saints into God’s building.
As believers in Christ, we are components of the church; we were created from dust (Gen. 2:7), but we are in the process of being transformed in our human nature by and with the divine nature through the working of the Spirit (2 Cor. 3:3. 18) to become precious stones for God’s eternal building (Matt. 16:18; John 1:42; 1 Pet. 2:5; Rev. 21:18-21).
When the Lord met Simon in John 1, He changed his name into Cephas, a stone; when the Lord comes into us, He changes our name to reflect the reality of who we are – a transformed persons who is built up into the church.
Transformation is an organic life process. For example, a caterpillar starts as an ugly worm crawling on earth; it goes into a cocoon, going through an organic process, and what results is a beautiful butterfly. We start as ugly worms, crawling on the ground, and we enter into the process of transformation by experiencing Christ in His death and resurrection; the result is that we become precious stones for God’s building.
Another picture of transformation is the formation of a diamond: it starts as a carbon, black and opaque, but after a long period of time with intense heat and pressure, it becomes a diamond. In our human life and Christian life we have pressures, heat, and a lifetime to experience Christ and enjoy Him, so that a precious transformed material would be produced.
Another illustration of transformation is petrified wood: it starts out as wood, then the river flows through it for a long period of time, depositing the minerals in the structure of the wood and removing the wood element; the result is that the piece of wood becomes petrified.
As we experience and enjoy Christ, His divine element is added to us; before we received Him we were a piece of wood, but we were regenerated, a river is flowing into us, the element of Christ is deposited in us, and even though outwardly we look like everyone else, inside we have Christ, and God is added to our being to make us precious materials for His building.
The degree to which we can experience God’s building today is the degree to which we have been transformed. The prerequisite for us to have God’s leading is our enjoyment and experience of Christ, transformation, and building.
How wonderful it is that the Spirit works in our being to transform us organically, from within to without, into precious stones to be built up together with the saints in the divine nature as God’s building!
Lord Jesus, keep us in the process of transformation from clay into precious stones for Your building. Keep us enjoying You as the flowing water of life as we go through periods of intense heat, pressure, and sufferings, so that we may be transformed into Your image. Lord, add Your element to our being and discharge our old element. Transform us into the precious stones You need for Your building. Gain many saints who are transformed into precious stones and are built up together in the divine nature for Your building!
Being Mingled with God to be Transformed into Precious Stones Built up Together
On the breastplate there were twelve precious stones composed of four times three – four rows of three stones each; four signifies the creatures, three signifies the Triune God in resurrection, and four times three signifies the mingling of the Triune God with His creature, man, for the complete and perfect carrying out of God’s administration eternally (see Rev. 21:12-13).
Three times four – this is multiplication, not addition; God is not only added to us, He is mingled with us, and this is what transforms us and makes us the built-up Body of Christ for God to carry out His administration eternally.
The breastplate is a type of the church life today and of the New Jerusalem – the twelve precious stones point to the twelve foundations and the twelve entrances into the Holy City. Hallelujah, we are not only transformed but also mingled with the triune God!
Mingling is a process by which the divine nature and the human nature are mingled together, and transformation is an inward and outward change that results from this process. God is mingling His nature with our nature, and as we are being mingled together, there’s an inward change taking place – a change in nature; now we have not only the human nature but a God-man nature.
Just as a lot of things are going on inside the cocoon, so a lot of life activities and changes are going on in our being as we enjoy the Lord and experience Him, and at one point there will also be an outward change.
Transformation is not a change in our behavior but a change in our nature through an organic life process, and as God is mingling Himself with us, we will also be changed outwardly in His image.
The fact that the stones were set in gold (Exo. 28:20) signifies that the transformed and mingled believers are built in the divine nature of Christ into one entity (2 Pet. 1:4). As we grow in the Lord, we are mingled with Him, and we are being transformed, we are also being built up with others.
[In Exodus 28:30] we see that the breastplate was borne upon Aaron’s heart before the Lord. This signifies that the entire church as one entity built together is borne upon Christ’s loving heart before God. What a great comfort this is to us! Many among us have hardships and difficulties. We may have problems at work or at home. Human life is not easy. However, if we consider the picture of the breastplate on Aaron’s heart, we shall realize that we are not in our hardships, difficulties, or problems—we are on Christ’s heart before God. When the enemy comes to trouble us, we should declare, “Satan, right now I am borne on Christ’s heart before God.” (Witness Lee, Life-study of Exodus, p. 1403)
Hallelujah, in God’s eternal plan and according to His eternal view, the church is borne on Christ’s heart and held in the span of His loving hand! The church as a mingling of the Triune God with redeemed humanity is on Christ’s heart and in the span of His loving hand.
In God’s eyes we are already transformed, built up, fully mingled with God, and even glorified; when the Lord looks at the church today, He sees transparent, transformed, built up, shining believers. He foreknew us, predestinated us, called us, justified us, and glorified us – it all has happened in His eyes (Rom. 8:28-29).
On the day we were regenerated, our glorification became an absolute certainty; the only question is not IF but WHEN we will be glorified. We simply need to cooperate with the Lord by allowing Him to mingle Himself with us so that we may be transformed and built up in the divine nature as the church, the Body of Christ.
And when we look at the saints, we should appreciate the Christ in them: the church is glorious and the saints are precious stones being built up!
Lord, mingle Yourself with us more today so that we may be transformed in our nature and become precious stones for Your building! Work Yourself into us in a metabolic way until there’s a change in nature in our being to make us precious stones for God’s building. We want to be transformed and mingled with God to be built up in the divine nature of Christ into God’s building. Amen! Thank You Lord for bearing us on Your heart and holding us in the span of Your loving care until we are fully transformed, mingled, and built up!
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, msgs. 124-125 (by Witness Lee), 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:
# God hath us regenerated / In our spirit with His life; / But He must transform us further- / In our soul by His own life. / Spreading outward from our spirit / Doth the Lord transform our soul, / By the inward parts renewing, / Till within His full control. (Hymns #750)
# Though of clay Thou madest us, / Thou wouldst have us be transformed; / With Thy life as purest gold, / Unto precious stones conformed. / We shall, through Thy building work, / Then become Thy loving Bride, / In one Body joined to Thee, / That Thy heart be satisfied. (Hymns #839)
# In our daily life and all we are and do and think and say, / How we need a deeper mingling just to gain the Lord each day; / Lord, we give ourselves completely just to take the mingled way. / Yes, mingling is the way. (Hymns #1199)
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