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Exodus 28:15-16 The Breastplate of Judgment

Posted by adventbiblestudy on November 17, 2012


Study methods explained. Bible stories, studies with links between Old and New Testament texts.

Learning about prophecies fulfilled shows how to understand all scripture.

Exodus 28:15-16 KJV And thou shalt make the breastplate of judgment with cunning work; after the work of the ephod thou shalt make it; of gold, of blue, and of purple, and of scarlet, and of fine twined linen, shalt thou make it. (16) Foursquare it shall be being doubled; a span shall be the length thereof, and a span shall be the breadth thereof.

There may be nothing in the Bible described with more detail than the breastplate of judgment. It contains all the colors in the Tabernacle with the exceptions of silver, brass, and the outside covering of black, is not specifically mentioned. It contained the names of Israel’s children, not only on the twelve stones across the front, but also inscribed on the Urim and the Thummim, the two stones God used to answer specific questions.

Aaron was the first to wear the breastplate of judgment. Imagine the awesome responsibility he accepted while as he dressed before presenting himself to serve to God. To understand the full extent, we have to put this into perspective by putting it in context. To learn context we have to look at God’s order and timing.

After the Exodus from Egypt and a number of tests and trials where God came through, protected Israel, and provided more than they needed, God tells them why He brought them out of Egypt. And you will be my kingdom of priests, my holy nation.’ This is the message you must give to the people of Israel.” (Exodus 19:6 NLTse). At first they accept God’s proposal. And all the people responded together, “We will do everything the LORD has commanded.” So Moses brought the people’s answer back to the LORD. (Exodus 19:8 NLTse). To be God’s priests they must know God’s law. After hearing God’s ten commandments, Israel changed their answer. And they said to Moses, “You speak to us, and we will listen. But don’t let God speak directly to us, or we will die!” (Exodus 20:19 NLTse).

Did God accept their answer? Did He give up? No He didn’t! Instead God followed His plan. He explained His law in more detail to show it’s benefits. The benefits are the same as being freed from the bondage of Egypt, or slavery. After Moses wrote all that God said in a book. Then he took the Book of the Covenant and read it aloud to the people. Again they all responded, “We will do everything the LORD has commanded. We will obey.” (Exodus 24:7 NLTse). This put them into a strange position. They already turned down the opportunity to talk directly with God. After hearing the law explained, they claimed they could keep the law on their own. Where is their commitment and reliance on God? Why didn’t they ask Him for help or His plan to keep the commandments? Then Moses took the blood from the basins and splattered it over the people, declaring, “Look, this blood confirms the covenant the LORD has made with you in giving you these instructions.” (Exodus 24:8 NLTse).

God knew they did not understand. He knew Israel wanted to exercise their independence after living as slaves all their lives. Is that any different then us when we are offered freedom from sin and think we can make the journey to God on our own? God always has a plan. He gave Moses the instructions and pattern for the Tabernacle. Each detail pointed to God’s plan of salvation. Included in these symbols was the breast plate of judgment worn by Aaron the high priest. Notice how God gave these examples before He named the Levites as His priests. Was the offer still open to all Israel? Let’s look at one of the details the breastplate symbolized.

Exodus 28:29-30 KJV And Aaron shall bear the names of the children of Israel in the breastplate of judgment upon his heart, when he goeth in unto the holy place, for a memorial before the LORD continually. (30) And thou shalt put in the breastplate of judgment the Urim and the Thummim; and they shall be upon Aaron’s heart, when he goeth in before the LORD: and Aaron shall bear the judgment of the children of Israel upon his heart before the LORD continually.

There is a lot here in these two verses. It is easy to see the theme once the repeated terms are broken down. Children of Israel is repeated twice. The LORD is repeated three times. Heart is repeated three times. The Bible tells us the high priest is a symbol of Jesus. We have a great High Priest who has entered heaven, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold firmly to what we believe. (Hebrews 4:14 NLTse). Will Jesus wear a similar breast plate in Heaven, or is the breastplate with the names of Israel a symbol showing how Jesus has the names of all His followers written over His heart?

If Israel did not understand the plan of salvation, did they understand what it meant to have the names written upon the heart of the high priest? Did they look at this symbol and reconsider God’s offer to make them a kingdom of priests?

As we can see, the breastplate is one symbol pointing to Jesus as the high priest. There is another detail in Exodus few people recognize as a prophecy about Jesus.

Exodus 28:32 KJV And there shall be an hole in the top of it, in the midst thereof: it shall have a binding of woven work round about the hole of it, as it were the hole of an habergeon, that it be not rent.

When I read this I wonder how many people read this right after Jesus’ ascension and saw how it was fulfilled during Jesus’ first trial in front of the religious leaders.

Matthew 26:65-66 KJV Then the high priest rent his clothes, saying, He hath spoken blasphemy; what further need have we of witnesses? behold, now ye have heard his blasphemy. (66) What think ye? They answered and said, He is guilty of death.

Mark 14:63-64 KJV Then the high priest rent his clothes, and saith, What need we any further witnesses? (64) Ye have heard the blasphemy: what think ye? And they all condemned him to be guilty of death.

Can you imagine how they felt the presence of the Holy Spirit after reading this and thinking about the stories they heard? Can you imagine how this gave them the enthusiasm to look deeper into the scriptures?

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