The Urim and Thummim are mentioned a few times in OT. They refer to the two stones used for serious decision making and stored in the high priest’s breast-piece. Because of the decisive factor of the Urim and Thummin, the breast-piece was called the breast-piece of judgement (Exodus 28:30). The other references to the Urim and Thummim are 1 Samuel 14:41ff , Ezra 2:63, and Nehemiah 7:65.
The Urim and Thummim were used by the High priest to reveal God’s decisions to the nation of Israel. If the Law did not dictate what to do, but it was nonetheless very important, then God used the Urim and Thummim to tell the people what judgement or decision to make.
For example, the uses in Ezra and Nehemiah were to decide whether or not some individuals who claim to be of the tribe of Levi, but had no proof of it, would be allowed to serve in the new temple or not.
We are not 100% sure how it was used, but it was linked to casting lots. Perhaps a modern equivalent would be to “flip a coin, if it is heads (Urim), then you go with option A, if it is tails (Thummim), go with option B instead.”
In the Law of Moses, God provided the High Priest and the Urim and Thummim as a means of ensuring a divine verdict in a human decision. The Urim and Thummim helped with all important decisions that were not directly addressed in the Law.
For us who are not in the Mosaic covenant, there is nothing of the sort. Jesus is our high priest, and He has given us the Holy Spirit instead of the Urim and Thummim. Furthermore, the Holy Spirit does not reveal new information to us for our decision, but instead, according to John 16:13, reminds us what Jesus had said, and according to 2 Peter 1:21, He also gave us the rest of the Scriptures.
We should not covet the Urim and Thummim. Rather we must recognise that our decisions must all be directed by the Holy Spirit’s inspired Scriptures.
The simplest guide through the Scriptures for your decision making is to answer the following three questions from the Scriptures, in this order,
- Is it sinful or righteous?
Don’t sin, Definitely do righteousness
- Is it wise or foolish?
Don’t be foolish, but wise
- Is it something you’d like?