Re: The Urim & Thummim – God allowed DEVINATION!
hehe…I knew you’d bite!
This is from “Dictionary of the Old Testament: Pentateuch” (Alexander & Baker by IVP):
“Divination attempts to gain supernatural knowledge, usually either to understand why something has occurred or to predict the future. Magic attempts to use supernatural powers to influence people, events or other supernatural beings”
Divination and magic were widely practiced in the ancient Near East (ANE) and condemned by the Pentateuch.
However, Urim and Thummim were sanctioned within Israel.
“Their precise nature is not known, but they were small objects held in a pocket on the high priest’s breastplate. . . . The priest threw them to receive guidance from God. Although similar to rhabdomancy and other lot-casting methods, the Urim and Thummim were viewed differently because they were given by God and used to determine his will (Prov 16:33).”
I think your last sentence sums up the issue perfectly, but understand that I wasn’t trying to ‘advocate’ devination… I was only commenting on how this was accepted by God in the OT. I know devination and soothsaying, etc is incredibly wrong. Thus my point for bringing light to this subject on the Urim and Thummim. It was surprising to me to see that the Jews resorted to this, and that God not only allowed it, but spoke sometimes through this medium.
I imagine it’s no different than the subject of divorce. That God gave this as a cultural concession to the Jews. The bible claims that God hates divorce… and yet he permitted it in the bible as well.
It shows us how God made exceptions for humanity because he gave us free will. We chose to do so many of the wrong things, and it broke his heart for sure… but he allowed it and gave us an ‘out’.
In the matter of this Urim & Thummim… not only did he allow it, but he sanctioned it and chose to be heard through it. This was what surprised me most… this almost endorses the bad behaviour in my mind. And your underscoring of the issue about ‘priests’ being the only permitted users of Urim doesn’t really make things any better in my opinion.
edit: also, consider that the disciples cast lots to determine Judas’ replacement! I know of some churches that receive nominations for deacon positions and then draw names from a hat! (rather than have the church elect members). Same thing! Think about it!