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The Urim & Thummim – God allowed DEVINATION!


Home Forums Spiritual Discussions The Urim & Thummim – God allowed DEVINATION!

This topic contains 16 replies, has 5 voices, and was last updated by Avatar of DBNickel DBNickel 8 years, 5 months ago.

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  • #21097
    Avatar of Digital Aura
    Digital Aura
    Member

    I’m sure most of you ‘churched’ folk have heard of the mysterious Old Testament articles called the Urim & Thummim.
    But what are they? No one knows for sure, although we can make some assumptions and come up with some educated guesses. Some think they are stones or bones. Yin and Yang. Black and White. The name infers Light and Truth. Others, like the Mormons claim to have special knowledge and unique usage of these things…as their Mormon bible was translated, according to their founder John Smith, by using the Urim & Thummim to aid him in translating the ‘golden plates’.

    I bring it up, only because I’m struck by what we DO know about these items… that they were items of ‘devination’ that God allowed the Jews to use. Let me be clearer… God permitted the Israelites to use these articles as a means of determining ‘yes/no’ or ‘guilty/innocent’ answers, like we use those goofy magic eight-balls. Essentially, if the high priest wanted to know what God thought, he would ‘use’ the Urim & Thummim. Let that sink in. Does it bother you? It was often used in conjunction with praying and fasting!
    After I thought about it, I realized it actually takes a lot of faith in God to subscribe to these methods. I mean, we often see people ‘casting lots’ in the bible to determine “God’s will”. It’s the same thing. So… does God allow chance and coincidence in our lives? Or is He actively involved in every roll of the die!? To believe that the Urim & Thummim indicate God’s responses would be subscribing to the belief that God is in control and governs every outcome.
    [for the record, I don't believe this... I think the bible is clear that God allowed OUR free wills to trump His will and that's why we're in the state we're in today!]
    Let’s hear your thoughts!

    Here are some biblical references to the Urim & Thummim.

    Exodus 28:30 “You shall put in the breastpiece of judgment the Urim and the Thummim, and they shall be over Aaron’s heart when he goes in before the LORD; and Aaron shall carry the judgment of the sons of Israel over his heart before the LORD continually.

    Numbers 27:21 “Moreover, he shall stand before Eleazar the priest, who shall inquire for him by the judgment of the Urim before the LORD. At his command they shall go out and at his command they shall come in, both he and the sons of Israel with him, even all the congregation.”

    Deuteronomy 33:8 Of Levi he said, “Let Your Thummim and Your Urim belong to Your godly man, Whom You proved at Massah, With whom You contended at the waters of Meribah;

    1 Samuel 28:6 When Saul inquired of the LORD, the LORD did not answer him, either by dreams or by Urim or by prophets.

    Ezra 2:63 The governor said to them that they should not eat from the most holy things until a priest stood up with Urim and Thummim.

    Nehemiah 7:65 The governor said to them that they should not eat from the most holy things until a priest arose with Urim and Thummim.

    #29567
    Avatar of DBNickel
    DBNickel
    Member

    We need to be EXTREMELY careful on this area. The Bible not only speaks out against devination… but gives dire warnings as far as reprecussions about devination.

    Biblically speaking there is not much said about the Urim & Thummim – Biblically… It would be unwise to assume that God pulls a 180 on what is considered an extremely taboo issue.

    It should be noted that several of the verses just mention they exist, several off them indicate that they were used, but not how (and always only by certain priests… it’s possible that the way the priests were using them were not as devination, but their use was modified by others similar to our playing cards) – and possibly the most significant verse

    1 Sam 28:6

    6 And when Saul inquired of the Lord, the Lord answered him not, neither by dreams nor by Urim, nor by prophets.
    KJV

    goes on to say that there were dire reprecussions – not just for Saul, but for his family and all of Isreal.

    Interestingly enough, in verse 18 – when Saul is told the punishment – the punishment is because he “obeyedst not the voice of Jehovah” (ASV)

    He was using various forms of devination (the Umin and Thumin being among them [notice, not through a priest]) but he ALREADY knew the will of God. This gives us a key indication of why the Bible unanimously speaks against devination.

    Lev 19:26-27
    26 ‘You shall not eat anything with the blood, nor shall you practice divination or soothsaying.

    Lev 19:31
    31 ‘Give no regard to mediums and familiar spirits; do not seek after them, to be defiled by them: I am the Lord your God.
    NKJV

    NKJV

    Divination is an attempt to subvert God’s will and objective authority (the Bible) with our own will and subjective authority (experience and feelings).

    #29568
    Avatar of DJRaindance
    DJRaindance
    Participant

    The URIM and THUMMIN were 2 gemstones they put in a pouch. One was red and the other was green. They put their hand in the pouch and pull one out and the one that they pulled out was considered to be God’s will.

    #29569
    Avatar of Digital Aura
    Digital Aura
    Member

    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!

    #29570
    Avatar of Digital Aura
    Digital Aura
    Member

    @DJRaindance wrote:

    The URIM and THUMMIN were 2 gemstones they put in a pouch. One was red and the other was green. They put their hand in the pouch and pull one out and the one that they pulled out was considered to be God’s will.

    There are many oral and written traditions on this, but as mentioned already… it isn’t known for sure what the properties were of these items. It’s really speculation that they were red or green or black or white… the only known physical properties were that they were kept in a breastplate…so… “smaller than a bread basket” to quote that favourite child-hood game.

    #29571
    Avatar of DBNickel
    DBNickel
    Member

    And to be clear, I don’t know that only the priests were considered “allowed to use them” – just that the when they were used “acceptably” it was only by priests.

    I’m glad you clarified though.

    I agree with you about the hat thing… depending on the state of mind of the deacons. If the thought is that it is some sort of divination – that probably isn’t a good thing. If the thought is “all these men are valid, and we can’t choose. Let’s be random (and thus fair) and God will use whatever outcome.” – then that may be ok.

    And to be fair, that might have been the original thought with the Urim & Thummim to.

    #29572
    Avatar of DBNickel
    DBNickel
    Member

    @Digital Aura wrote:

    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’.

    Good point.

    #29573
    Avatar of Digital Aura
    Digital Aura
    Member

    If the thought is that it is some sort of divination – that probably isn’t a good thing. If the thought is … Let’s be random (and thus fair) and God will use whatever outcome.” – then that may be ok.


    Nickel… Divination is “the attempt to gain SUPERNATURAL knowledge by using any form of medium be it lots/dice/bones/stones or URIM! You present two distinct thought processes (above)
    But don’t you find it odd that we DO see these two thought processes as being different? I contend that they actually aren’t!
    Think about it! If you say, “Lets cast lots and let FATE/CHANCE decide for us” then for a Christian that is THE SAME THING as saying “God is in control of the outcome, let’s just randomly cast lots and He will ultimately have His will.”
    Both forms of lot casting are using supernatural means of obtaining knowledge!

    SO I ask you… is it the medium that is sinful? is it the concept of trying to glean supernatural info? Or is it ‘who’ you seek the supernatural advice from that makes it sinful? Perhaps, the Urim and Thummim were sacred and endorsed by God because the Jews used them to seek GOD HIMSELF! (as opposed to Ouija boards or tarot cards who seek only ‘enlightened spirit forces’.)

    What do you think?

    #29574
    Avatar of DBNickel
    DBNickel
    Member

    I do see the second train of thought as vastly different. Where one is expecting God to change the outcome of the cast – and devining His will… the other (random chance) is saying more of “if God wants to change it He can, but the “cast” itself has no authority – because God can use the outcome either way.

    So I guess it comes to an authority issue.

    In one, the Urim is unquestionable authority because it is God’s will. In the other, the Urim is a random value and God can use the outcome either way… but the Urim is not assumed to be God’s perfect will… and that also hints at when the Urim (or hat, or dice, etc.) should be used…

    If it has no authority in itself, then it is a last resort – when both options are equally viable. But only when objective scripture doesn’t say, when the Holy Spirit is silent on the issue, when logic and reason don’t tell, and when emotions don’t lean one way or the other. And even then, it’s not assumed that the cast is perfect, just that no-one knew.

    #29575
    Avatar of Digital Aura
    Digital Aura
    Member

    That makes good sense. Yes, it comes down to authority, as you say. Regardless of the circumstance, my belief is that God has given us brains enough to make our own decisions, and our relationship with him should be enough to guide our decisions. We have something that the OT Jews did not… the Holy Spirit!

    #29576
    Avatar of alexw
    alexw
    Member

    so your building theology around 6 disconnected, out of context sections of scripture that probably dont have anything in common but 2 words…. yeah.. thats a smart idea…

    #29577
    Avatar of Digital Aura
    Digital Aura
    Member

    I’m simply making points for discussion here… there’s no need to bash anyone’s ideas or presentation. If you have something to contribute feel free to add to the discussion.
    Frankly, if something is mentioned in the bible 6 times, then listing the verses where they are mentioned can hardly be out of context nor disconnected. Each of these verses shows the circumstances and use of the items in question. It would have been more permissible (and Christ-like) to state that you don’t think it was fair to assess the subject that way and give perhaps your own ideas for studying this subject, as opposed to resorting to sarcasm with nothing helpful to add. There’s simply no need for derogatory remarks. That said, if you feel that way…. I’d love to hear a better approach.

    #29578
    Avatar of alexw
    alexw
    Member

    is issue is with the word allowed. there is a difference between God allowing people to sin and condoning people’s sin.

    remember how Jephthah vowed to sacrifice whatever came out of his house first? it ended up being his daughter, which he sacrificed. this is a CLEAR sin. the law handed down to moses clearly stated that no one was to sacrifice a child (which many local pagan religions did at the time). he basically said my vow is more important then the law. (or didnt know blah blah blah).

    how bout this then… lets look at just the breastplate it is talking about (in exodus) (which still isnt a good idea)

    the breastplate is part of the priestly garments. basically, to signify the priests authority to determine the will of the Lord. there is a significant amount of symbolism in the garments down to the individual jewels used to represent each tribe. (vs 29) it is a reminder to the priest that he is bearing the weight of the nation of israel, it is upon his shoulders. only then, understanding what his role and responsibilty is, can he determine what God’s will is. remember that MUCH of jewish culture is based on remembering and then acting upon that. look at the feasts. great example.

    looking back further, if you start with God allowing divination, you will take that position and combine it with vs 15 you will come to a logical (although incorrect) conclusion that not only did God allow it, but command it.

    raindance, i would like to know where you find the bit about one being red and the other being green. i would guess that it comes from the Kabbalah, the jewish mysticism.

    urim and thummin are not mentioned previous to this, which is interesting. to find the significance of this, you may need to look into the jewish writings and histories. also, i need to check the hebrew and determine what the original translation means.

    when constructing a theology, you must take everything into consideration, culture, purpose, original meaning, scriptural backing, common sense, logical coherence, previous biblical commands and most importantly you own preconceived notions. this is how first century myticism (IE there is a method that can be followed to make God do stuff), existentialism and other heretical notions have crept into the church. its damaging. satan is prowling and if we allow things to creep in, we are finished.

    that being said, technically, God did allow it because we al have free will and the ability to choose what we want to do…

    #29579
    Avatar of alexw
    alexw
    Member

    and they may not be disconnected, but they are presented in a way that basically says, God not only allows divination, but endorses it, tells the priests to use it and is generally pretty cool with the idea. which is clearly against scriptures.

    #29580
    Avatar of Digital Aura
    Digital Aura
    Member

    Great post, alexw! Thanks for contributing those clear and complete points. I have to agree completely with you to the point of, again, stating I wasn’t saying God WANTED or WAS COOL with Israel using this method of ‘truth seeking’. The words Urim & Thummim actually do mean “truth” and “light”.
    I entitled the thread God allowed divination mostly for shock value, but I made sure it wasn’t false.

    BUT MY MAIN REASON in even bringing it up was to point out that many of the things we do today are forms of divination. Whenever we say, “well… I’m going to test God on this”… or “if ‘THIS’ happens instead of ‘THAT’ then I’ll know God’s will” we are actually falling prey to divination (example: drawing deacon nominees from a hat). Forcing God into an immediate decision (especially yes/no scenarios) is extremely wrong and is undoubtedly worse than the Jews using the ‘ordained’ urim & thummim. I use the word ‘ordained’ only to emphasize that I don’t mean ‘holy’.

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