This is the fourth article of our Living Tabernacles series, where we study the Tabernacle in depth. It is exciting to see how each element symbolizes some characteristic of Yeshua. It is also more challenging when we examine what each element means for us, since each of us is now a living tabernacle of YHVH. We are posting two articles each month as part of this series.
In the first article in this series, Nancy studied the significance of the metals used in the Tabernacle. In the second article she examined the items YHVH specified in Exodus 25:4-5 as materials to construct and cover the Tabernacle. In my article last week, I discussed the oil and spices used for the anointing oil and incense in the Tabernacle (Ex 25:6). This week I will cover the next verse (7) in Exodus 25, which specifies: “onyx stones and setting stones for the [priest’s] ephod and for the breastplate”.
In Exodus 25:7, Abba tells Moshe that he is to ask the people to gather special types of precious stones to be used for the high priest’s ephod and breastplate. From Torah passages (Ex 28:4, 29:5, Lev 8:7) the ephod signifies a garment, which is part of the official dress of the high priest, and was to be made of threads of various colors. What can be gleaned from these passages is that the ephod was held together by a girdle sewed on to it (Ex 28:8); it had two shoulder-straps, which were fastened to the front of the ephod by golden rings, to which the breastplate was attached by golden chains (Exodus 28:6-14) which were fastened to the ephod in front (Ex 28:27).
From this description, it appears that the ephod was some type of apron, with the two onyx stones fastened to the shoulder straps. The breastplate was then to be hung down from the ephod straps, and the 12 different types of precious stones were attached to the breastplate, one for each of the tribes of Israel, inscribed with the name of the corresponding tribe (Ex 28:21). It is interesting to look at the prophecy of the “end times” New Jerusalem in Revelation 21. We know from Verses 12 and 13 that will be 12 gates to the New Jerusalem, with one of the names of the 12 tribes of Israel on each of the gates. Then from Verses 19 and 20, we see that there were 12 stones in the 12 foundations around the wall of the city, and the stones are very similar (and probably identical if we knew the Hebrew-Greek correlation) to the 12 stones in the breastplate in Exodus 28.
We know that the New Jerusalem is a direct reflection of the Holy City in Heaven (since it comes down from Heaven), so the foundations of the New Jerusalem are a reflection of the foundations of the City in heaven. From this we can infer that YHVH plans to build His earthly Kingdom according to His pattern in heaven, using the stones representing the 12 tribes as the foundation stones – thus He is building His new Kingdom on Earth on the foundations of the 12 tribes of Israel.
Somewhere near the heart of the high priest, among the stones of the tribes of Israel, the Urim and the Thummim were placed on the “breastplate of judgment”, to be used so that YHVH could guide the high priest in judging between right and wrong, especially in cases of deciding the guilt or innocence of the people. This passage points to Yeshua as our High Priest, who is the Righteous One (as it says in I Cor 1:30: He became Righteousness for us). While the high priest of Israel determined right from wrong in difficult cases of judgment by allowing YHVH to speak to him through the Urim and Thummim, Yeshua did not require this type of physical sign to hear the voice of the Holy Spirit (Ruach HaKodesh). The Ruach HaKodesh spoke directly through Yeshua, and because He has sent His Ruach to dwell inside us, we now have the same Ruach speaking to and through us.
Sha’ul (Paul) reminded us that we live on a spiritual battlefield, and that we must protect ourselves by putting on the whole armor of God. One of the key elements of our armor is the breastplate of righteousness, but whose righteousness are we putting on? This breastplate of righteousness refers to the righteousness purchased for us by Yeshua at the cross (2 Corinthians 5:21). The breastplate He gives us is specially designed by God to protect our heart and soul from evil and deception. Our own righteous acts are no match for Satan’s attacks (Isaiah 64:6). The breastplate of righteousness has Messiah’s name stamped on it, as though He said, “Your righteousness isn’t sufficient to protect you; here – wear mine”. Yeshua offers us His breastplate of righteousness; it is up to us to accept it and wear it.
Although sometimes it would be comforting to have physical evidence of YHVH’s guidance in our lives when we make decisions, or discern between good and evil, we have something even better than the Urim and Thummim. We have the Ruach of YHVH Father and Yeshua His Son living within us, guiding us in every part of our lives. It is not always easy, but our part is to draw close to YHVH, so we are able to hear Him better and understand what is He is saying to us. We do not need precious jewels and an intricately woven breastplate to hear Him as He guides us – His thoughts and insights are precious jewels to us. What we need is to know the thoughts and intents of His heart as He knows ours, by sitting in His lap and leaning against His heart. That way, we can truly call Him Abba Daddy and He can call us His beloved children.