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Summary: a study of Urim and Thummim from Scripture and applying it us today.

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Title: Urim and Thummim (Ezra #2)

Text: Ezra 2:59-63

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1. The book of Ezra basically tells the story of one of the most important events in all of Jewish history…

The return of the people of God living in exile in Babylon captivity…

This return has 2 stages, it started under the leadership of Zerubbabel, a descendant of Judah…

It continued under the leadership of Ezra…

Ezra contains the accounts of both of these events…

The first stage comprising the first 6 chapters of the book…

And the second stage comprising the last 4 chapters of the book.

2. There are a lot of similarities between the 2 events…

Both of them start with a decree from the ruling power of the day…

Both of them allow the Israelites to return to their homeland…

Both times, it gives a type of summary of who responds…

And both times, it details precisely the items from the Temple that they are carrying back.

The first journey, under Zerubbabel’s leadership…

Was intended to restore the Temple building…

The 2nd journey, under Ezra was a restoration of the PEOPLE…

Not the building.1

3. Here in Ezra Chapter 2, we see the people who responded to God’s movement…

And they are listed in different ways…

We already know from this morning’s study…

That they are all from the tribes of Judah, Benjamin, and Levi.

And if I were to read the first 58 verses of Ezra chapter 2…

You would probably find yourself starting to nod off…

Because I would basically be reading just a list of names…

Most of whom you wouldn’t recognize…

But then, we come to the words of our text…

And we find something that certainly bears special attention…

Read Text: Ezra 2:59-63

Body

1. Background

A. Genealogies were very important to the Jewish people…

Still are, in fact.

People all tried to show that they were descendants from Abraham…

And people of the covenant…

If they couldn’t show that they were a descendant of Abraham…

They were not considered a true Jew…

And they would not be able to participate in all parts of the Jewish community…

And furthermore…some tribes had special privileges and honors…

For example, only those who were descended from Levi were allowed to serve in the Temple

B. Here, in Ezra chapter 2, we find a group of people who considered themselves Jewish…

But, for what ever reason, they were unable to properly document it…

Those who claimed to be descended from priests were excluded from the priesthood…

They were excluded from eating sacred food…

And they were considered unclean until a priest could administer what is called in verse 63…

The Urim (YOU rim) and the Thummim (THUMB im)

C. We don’t have a lot of information about the Urim and Thummim…

The work Urim is found 7 times in the Bible…

And the work Thummim is found 5 times…

All 5 of those, Urim and Thummim appear together…

And then, there are 2 other places were Urim is found by itself…

And all of them are found in the Old Testament.

Commentators disagree over what they were…

But I tend to think they were two objects probably shaped like flat stones…

Originally, they were worn by the high priest.

We find additional description in Exodus 28:29-30.

"Whenever Aaron enters the Holy Place, he will bear the names of the sons of Israel over his heart on the breastpiece of decision as a continuing memorial before the LORD. 30 Also put the Urim and the Thummim in the breastpiece, so they may be over Aaron’s heart whenever he enters the presence of the LORD. Thus Aaron will always bear the means of making decisions for the Israelites over his heart before the LORD”

These flat rocks or whatever they were…

Were evidently used to help make decisions…

They were used to find God’s will…

So they could know what God wanted them to do…

Some commentators think that the Urim represented the “NO” answer…

And the Thummim represented the “Yes” answer.

After a time of prayer for God’s guidance…

The priest would shake out one of the stones…

If the Thummim came out…

Then God’s answer was “no”…

If the Urim came out, then God’s answer was “yes”.

Other commentators feel that each stone had a yes side and a no side…

The priest would pray…

And then shake out both stones…

If they were both on the “yes” side…

Then God had spoken clearly on the “yes” side…

But if they both fell on the “no” side…

Then God’s answer was “no”…

But if one was yes, and one was No…

Then that was considered no answer from God.2

D. With this in mind…

Evidently these people who were unable to prove that they were Jewish…

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