It is quite impressive to see that the breastplate of judgment for God’s leading was like a heavenly, divine, and spiritual typewriter (or keyboard), and His way of speaking through the breastplate with the Urim and the Thummim is the opposite of what we would expect.
We would expect that God would speak to His people through the shining stones, but actually He used the darkened stones to convey His message.
The breastplate was the central piece and ultimate point of the priesthood, and it was composed of twelve transparent precious stones (in three rows of four) set in gold; the breastplate was double, and in-between there was the Urim (the illuminators), and outside there was the Thummim (the completers).
The way God spoke to His people through the breastplate with the Urim and the Thummim is by shining on the stones, and when some of them were darkened, they were used to compose His message, His leading.
Christ Himself is the reality of the Urim – He is the light of the world coming into us to bring us in the divine light, and He shines through us to expel and remove any darkness.
Christ is the reality of the Thummim – He is not just the Author but also the Completer and Perfecter of our faith; as we experience Christ and grow in Him, our realization is that we still need more of Him.
Together, the Urim and the Thummim typify Christ as God’s witness; Christ is God’s testimony, His expression and message to man, as the means for God to speak to His people. When God speaks to us, He speaks in Christ and He speaks Christ (Heb. 1:2); Christ is the word of God, the very definition, expression, explanation, and message of God (John 1:1).
Today the reality of the Urim and the Thummim is the mingled spirit: in our spirit we have the Holy Spirit indwelling us, and as soon as we turn to the Lord to contact Him and live in spirit, we have God’s leading through His fresh shining.
God’s leading and His speaking should be continual, constant, and non-stop; God’s desire is that we contact Him, live in spirit, walk according to the spirit, and do everything in His presence under His shining, so that He may speak to us, in us, and through us for the building up of the church as the Body of Christ.
The Lord’s Speaking by the Breastplate of Judgement is through Negative Situations
When we hear that the breastplate had the illuminators shining behind the twelve precious stones, we may think that God spoke to His people through all the shining lights; actually, God spoke not through the stones that are shining but through the stones that become dark.
When the high priest looked at the stones, their normal condition was to be shining, because the Urim was behind each one; if one of them became dark, something was wrong, so that stone was used to compose God’s message for His people.
The normal situation in our Christian life is that we all should be shining, but sometimes we look around and we realize that some saints or even ourselves become dark…and this is the time that God speaks something to us as a judgment.
Normally, the twelve stones in the breastplate were under the shining of the Urim; suddenly, a piece inscribed with a certain name would become dark, and this darkening of a particular stone was God’s instant speaking.
This is confirmed both by our experience and by the word of God; in our experience as we enjoy the Lord, He shines on us in a normal way and supplies us with Himself, but His speaking is more direct, intensified, and specific when we or others become “dark stones”, when we fail.
Paul’s Epistles and the Lord’s epistles to the seven churches in Asia (see Rev. 2-3) were all written according to this principle; they were written according to the negative situation of the churches and not according to the positive things found in the churches.
Paul wrote his first epistle to Corinthians according to his reading of the negative situation at Corinth; although his writing was based on the negative things, in his Epistle he ministered many positive things – the riches of Christ – to the church (see 1 Cor. 1:9).
Yes, there was a negative situation in Corinth, but Paul exercised his spirit with his spiritual discernment to read the situation and minister something of Christ that would meet the need of the saints in Corinth. The saints in Corinth became the letters used by Paul in the spiritual typesetting of his Epistle; in the same way, in a local church the leading ones need to seek the Lord’s guidance by reading the actual situation and condition of the saints.
In the church life we love the Lord, meet with the saints, read the Bible, and enjoy the Lord’s riches in the ministry of the age, but sometimes we may go through a dark situation, some saints may stop meeting, there may be a rebellion, or there may be some problems and confusion.
Such a situation is used by the Lord to speak, through those who are one with Him to read the situation in the church under His light, something further concerning what is on His heart.
We don’t have to look for or enter into negative situations for the Lord’s speaking to come to us, but He uses these situations, as we pass through them, to speak to us and to the church.
Lord Jesus, keep us enjoying You in the church life day by day. Keep us open to Your speaking, Your shining, and Your up-to-date leading. Lord, make us one with You in Your shining so that we may see our real situation and the situation of the saints, and be open to You for Your up-to-date speaking. Have a way to speak to us and give us Your fresh message and leading, no matter how dark and confused the situation is. Lord, we want to receive Your instant speaking wherever we are!
Seeking God’s Speaking and Leading by Reading the Actual Situation in God’s Light
The problem among Christians today, however, is that because there’s so much darkness, there’s almost no way for God to expose all this darkness and confusion.
Suppose there is a row of lights on the ceiling; if all the lights are dark, it is not easy to see which one is dark, but if all are shining and one or two are dark, it is easy to see which ones have a problem.
When everything is in darkness, it is difficult to point out a particular matter that is in darkness, but if light shines in our being, it is easy to see which part is in darkness.
In order for the darkness to be made known, there must first be the shining of light….If in a certain church things that are wrong are easily found out, that church is normal. But if in a particular church it is not possible to find out what is wrong, this is an indication that the church there is in darkness. When darkness prevails, it is not possible for negative matters to be exposed. For this, light is necessary. What is exposed under the shining of the light is God’s speaking. God speaks through things becoming negative. This kind of negative situation is an indicator of the shortage of Christ. By reading the negative situations in this way, we come to know God’s leading. Then in our locality we shall know what God wants us to do, and we should then follow His leading. (Witness Lee, Life-study of Exodus, pp. 1431-1432)
May we be those who have God’s speaking with His leading even through things that become negative, and may we be like Paul who care for the saints, bear them on our shoulders, and keep them in our heart as we go before the Lord, so that we may see their situation before the Lord.
Paul came before the Lord with a fearful heart for the saints, and the Father of light shined on him to reveal to him the needs of the churches which he was shouldering and embracing; then, he wrote his letters to the churches according to what he saw from the Lord. This is the principle of the Lord’s speaking through the breastplate.
We need to bring the saints on our heart and shoulders before the Lord, remain in His presence, be under His shining, and let Him speak to us and show us their real condition and situation. Then, as we meet with the saints, we will have the Lord’s speaking, His leading, and His up-to-date message for the saints.
We need to love the saints the Lord put around us, bear them on our heart, and put them on our shoulders, bringing them in God’s presence through our prayers, and the Lord will cause us to read their real condition in God’s light.
On the one hand we ourselves need to receive the Lord’s speaking specifically for our situation, and on the other hand we need to be those bearing the children of God before the Lord for Him to shine on us and on our situation, giving us His speaking and His leading.
Lord Jesus, we come to You with a fearful heart, bearing the saints on our heart of love and shouldering them in Your presence so that You may shine on us and give us a clear view of their situation before You. Lord, we need Your leading, Your speaking, and Your up-to-date message for us and for the saints You put on our heart. Reveal Yourself to us, show us where we are, speak to us, and take us on with You in the church through Your speaking in the church. Lord, we love You, we love the church, we love Your speaking, and we love to be in Your shining day by day!
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 Collected Works of Watchman Nee, vol. 38, ch. 56, 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:
# Lord, I love You, Lord, I need You, / You’re the One, the One I need, / To live this life, Lord, I need You always; / By Your presence, Lord, take lead. / Lord, look into me, / And infuse me / To walk by the strength of Your eyes. / Lord embrace me, / Bear me in You, / Deep in Your love I hide. / And when I’m weak, Lord, and can’t go on more, / Lift my eyes to gaze on You; / Speak softly to me, Come in, subdue me; / In Your strength, Lord, take me through. (new song on depending on the Lord)
# We give ourselves to follow the churches, / Oneness in Christ display; / Follow His move in all of the churches, / Stand fast as one this way. / We must follow the Spirit / In all simplicity. / In our spirit is Jesus— / He follows perfectly! (Hymns #1246)
# Lord, we meet to seek Thy face / And in one accord to pray; / We a holy priesthood are, / Waiting on Thee here today. / Here together we would pray, / Touch the highest and the best, / Till our spirits mingled are / And Thy Church is built and blest. (Hymns #772)
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